Tropical Storm Dorian, in Bridgetown, Barbados
Residents stand in line at a grocery store as they prepare for the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian, in Bridgetown, Barbados, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019 Image Credit: AP

Miami: Tropical Storm Dorian intensified Monday as it approached the Caribbean on a track that will take it near Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic by mid-week, possibly at hurricane strength, US forecasters said.

Although the storm was moving in the direction of Cuba and Florida,  forecasters said it could lose strength as it passes over mountainous terrain on Hispaniola, the Caribbean island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The storm was packing near 95km/h winds, and was expected to strengthen over the next few days.

"Dorian could be near hurricane strength when it passes through the northern Windward Islands on Tuesday, and is expected to be a hurricane when it moves near Puerto Rico and eastern Hispaniola," the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

It said the storm was expected to travel either near or south of Puerto Rico on Wednesday, and reach the eastern side of Hispaniola later that night.

A hurricane watch was in effect for the island of St Lucia and tropical storm warnings were posted for Barbados, Martinique and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

As of 1500 GMT, the storm was 217km southeast of Barbados, traveling towards the northwest at a speed of 22.53km/h.