Rafael, with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, was rated a Category 1 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in its 8 p.m. EDT advisory. The storm was centered about 545 miles south of Bermuda, moving on a northerly track at 10 mph.
Rafael was expected to pass near or to the east of Bermuda Tuesday or Tuesday night. A tropical storm warning was posted for the island.
Hurricane-force winds reached out 45 miles from Rafael's eye and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 205 miles.
Rafael could produce 1-3 inches of rain over the northern Leeward Islands, with isolated amounts of up to 12 inches possible. The rain could produce flash flooding and mudslides.
Bermuda also could get 2-4 inches of rain.
Swells generated by Rafael will affect eastern-facing beaches of the Bahamas and Bermuda for the next few days, the hurricane center said. The swells likely will cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.