Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The U.S. Virgin Islands are experiencing Erika’s tropical storm force winds as the storm approaches Puerto Rico.

As of 11 p.m., the center of the system was located about 85 south-southwest of St. Croix and about 135 miles south-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Its maximum sustained winds remain at 45 miles per hour.

Erika is moving toward the west near 17 mph. Tropical Storm force winds extend outward up to 140 mph primarily east of the center. St. Croix recently reported a wind gust to 62 mile per hour.

A turn to the west-northwest is anticipated on Friday, and this general motion is expected to continue through Saturday. On the forecast track, the center of Erika will move near Puerto Rico during the next several hours and move near or over the Dominican Republic on Friday.

(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic from the northern border with Haiti eastward and southward to Isla Saona, Southeastern Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy.

Tropical Storm Watches remain in effect for Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Punta Palenque and the Central Bahamas.

: Tropical storm conditions are affecting the Virgin Islands and will spread across Puerto Rico during the next several hours. These conditions should spread westward across portions of the Dominican Republic on Friday, and the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands late Friday.

Erika is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 4 to 8 inches with maximum amounts of 12 inches possible across portions of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern Bahamas through Saturday. These rains could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

South Florida remains in the five-day forecast cone and residents of most of the state are urged to monitor the storm’s progress.