Tropical Storm Dorian is expected to hit Puerto Rico later today (August 28) before getting stronger en route to the Bahamas and Florida, where it is forecast to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane.

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center say although it is possible the storm could weaken after it moves across Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the storm is expected to strengthen later this week, while passing near the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas this weekend.

As of 5am Wednesday morning, Dorian was located about 85 miles southeast of St Croix with maximum winds of 60 mph, moving northwest at 13 mph.

Dorian is expected to hit the Florida penisula with up to 8 inches of rain or more, with “significant amounts of rain” expected in Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.

Forecasters say the storm would reach hurricane strength within the next two days with winds up to 100 mph as a Category 2 storm within five days.

Carnival Cruise line said all of its ships that call on ports in the Caribbean and the Bahamas are avoiding the storm as cruise line officials continue to monitor its path.

Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Six became Tropical Storm Erin overnight and by this morning was situated some 265 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, with winds up to 40 mph.

The 2019 hurricane season is now in its peak period, when 95 percent of storms are produced from mid-August to late October.

The National Oceanica and Atmosperic Administration has also warned that conditions could be favourable “for more dangerous storms than initially projected”.