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Tropical storm Bertha swirls toward Caribbean

Tropical storm Bertha headed toward the Caribbean Friday with maximum winds reaching near 45 mph. Islands in the eastern region are expected to get heavy winds and rain from tropical storm Bertha later Friday.

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This file photo shows surfers jumping off the rocks into the ocean off the coast of Luquillo, Puerto Rico. Tropical storm Bertha is expected to generate up to 3 inches of rain across the region

Ricardo Arduengo/AP/File

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Tropical storm Bertha careened toward the Caribbean on Friday as islands in the eastern region prepared for heavy rains and strong winds. The storm was expected to pass near or north of Barbados Friday afternoon, according to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Tropical storm Bertha's maximum sustained winds Friday morning were near 45 mph (75 kph), with no significant change in strength expected in the next two days. Bertha was centered about 110 miles (175 kilometers) east-northeast of Barbados and was moving west-northwest at 20 mph (31 kph).

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An Air Force reserve hurricane hunter aircraft was en route early Friday to investigate tropical storm Bertha, according to a release from the National Hurricane Center.

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Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. A tropical storm watch is in effect for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Tropical storm Bertha is expected to generate up to 3 inches (8 centimeters) of rain across the region, with isolated amounts of up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) in certain areas.

For the latest information, visit the National Hurricane Center's website.