(Reuters) - Tropical Storm Maria is forecast to move over the Leeward Islands Friday night through Saturday and is expected to be near the U.S. Virgin Islands by Saturday night, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in its latest report.
At 0800 a.m. EDT (0000 GMT), Maria was located about 130 miles north of Barbados packing maximum sustained winds of 45 miles per hour (75 kmph), the NHC said.
A gradual strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours, the NHC added.
Tropical cyclones become named tropical storms when their winds exceed 39 miles per hour and become hurricanes when their winds reach more than 74 mph.
(Reporting by Soma Das in Bangalore)