Credit: National Weather ServiceThe latest advisory from the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center states that the Dominican Republic is now in a Tropical storm warning instead of a hurricane warning.

Hurricane Irene is currently north of Puerto Plata and starting to pull away from the DR and is in a direct route for the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as the central Bahamas on Thursday.

Even with Irene leaving large amounts of rain is expected to fall over the island of Hispaniola. As much a 15 inches could fall in the higher terrains of the northern part of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Residents still need to watch for flash floods and possible mud slides as well as poor driving conditions if they plan on traveling.

Hurricane Irene is a category 2 hurricane that is continuing to gain strength and could become a major hurricane by Wednesday.

Hurricane Irene is still expected to hit the coast near South Carolina sometime over the weekend and may reach the classification of a major hurricane by the time it does. While Irene is the first of the hurricanes in the Caribbean area, it only marks the start of the major hurricane season  so residents should continue to be prepared for future storms.