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Tropical Storm Karen Bears Down On Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

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Houses from a seaside neighborhood are seen as Tropical Storm Karen approaches.
Ricardo Arduengo, REUTERS

Houses from a seaside neighborhood are seen as Tropical Storm Karen approaches.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

Tropical Storm Karen has reached the shores of Puerto Rico, bringing heavy rain and wind gusts up to 45 mph.

The storm, which has been described by the National Hurricane Center as "increasingly disorganized," is reported to be slightly stronger than anticipated.

Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin islands, and the British Virgin islands are subject to a Tropical Storm Warning. Karen, briefly weakened into a depression before regaining strength as a tropical storm early Tuesday morning.

In Puerto Rico, Karen is expected to produce 2 to 4 inches of rain through Wednesday. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning in several areas in response to the large amount of rain.

Residents have been advised to be wary of strong winds and waterspouts.

In a noon news conference, government officials from Puerto Rico offered further details on the passage of Karen.

Ernesto Morales with the National Weather Service San Juan stated that 10-foot waves on the southern coast would "aggravate the erosion situation."

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Officials also urged people with vulnerable roofs to go to storm shelters. According to a tweet sent by the governor's office, there are 67 open shelters.

The tropical storm comes ashore in Puerto Rico a day after a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck nearly 50 miles from the island's shoreline. The U.S. Tsunami Warning Center did not issue any tsunami advisories.

A Tuesday morning public advisory issued by the NHC predicted that Karen will pass near or over the Caribbean Sea islands before moving over the western Atlantic.

According to the NHC's 2:00 p.m. advisory, Karen is located 65 miles south of San Juan and 80 miles west of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Karen is advancing at 8 mph northwards.

Schools and government offices in Puerto Rico were closed Monday in anticipation of the tropical storm and the territory's governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced, took to Twitter to warn residents.

"We urge the population to be cautious and carry out their family's emergency plan," Vázquez Garced said in a tweet. "It's important to evaluate if you live in a vulnerable zone so you can go to a place of refuge."

The governor said she will continue to evaluate the storm's development and decide if schools and government offices will open later on Tuesday.

Karen is one of three active tropical storms in the Atlantic. Experts are watching Tropical Storm Lorenzo, which is forecast to become a "major hurricane" by Thursday. The NHC has yet to issue any coastal watches or warnings. The storm is about 310 miles southwest of the southern most Cabo Verde Islands.

There is also Tropical Storm Jerry, which is forecast to pass near Bermuda early Wednesday, according to the NHC. Jerry is expected to bring 1 to 3 inches of rain and heavy waves.

"Swells generated by Jerry are beginning to increase along the coast of Bermuda, and they will continue to affect the island during the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions," the NHC said.

The latest storm comes as Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island two years ago. The local government estimates that about 30,000 families are living under blue plastic tarps, a symbol of post-hurricane construction.

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