Tropical Storm Gabrielle Weakens, Dumps 12 Inches of Rain on Puerto Rico

Tropical Storm Gabrielle dumped several inches of rain on the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico with heavy rains Thursday as its path changed toward the Dominican Republic.

The storm was located about 65 miles west-southwest of Ponce, Puerto Rico's second largest city, and was moving northwest near 8 mph with winds of up to 40 mph.

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla activated the National Guard, canceled classes at all public schools and closed central government agencies as a precaution.

While rains seemed to diminish by midmorning on Thursday, they were expected to intensify again and last through Friday, according to state meteorologist Ernesto Morales.

"We should not lower our guard," he told Fox News. "The storm is very dangerous. There's a very high possibility of flooding."

The storm was expected to drop up to 12 inches of rain in central Puerto Rico, and up to 6 inches on other areas of the island, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eastern portions of the Dominican Republic.

Miguel Rios, director of Puerto Rico's emergency management agency, said the tropical storm was joining several other storms in the area leading to increased rainfall.

"In the next 36 hours, we can experience heavy rains at any moment," he said. "We must remain on alert."

According to NHC, the hurricane season in the Atlantic starts June 1 and ends five months later on Nov. 30. For the Eastern Pacific, hurricane season lasts longer, beginning on May 15 and ends six months after on Nov. 30 as well.

This year has been particular quite for the Western pacific in terms of named storms, but it has been a relatively active season in the Eastern Pacific with 10 named storms so far this season. On average, there are only three Eastern Pacific hurricanes by the first week of August, with hurricane season running until Nov. 1.