As of 11:30 AM EDT/AST
Tropical Storm Erika has sustained winds of about 50 MPH with gusts upwards of 60 MPH. The storm is moving west-northwestward at the moment over the Dominican Republic. Tropical Storm Warnings are still in effect for Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, parts of The Turks and Caicos along with The Bahamas, and all of Hispaniola. Hurricane Hunter Aircraft are in the storm.
This image is made public by the South Florida Water Management District (.gov)
The track seems to be locking in and narrowing down, well, at least compared to yesterday at this time, but nonetheless, the expected track and intensity are still at a state of ‘low confidence’ as mentioned by the NHC in their latest Tropical Forecast Discussion. The general trend though, is that the storm will pass over Hispaniola over the next day, then turn northward toward Florida, then possibly re curving, to go back over the Atlantic and to head up the East Coast. For those in Florida or along the Southeast Coast of the United States, please continue to monitor the situation, as the cone of uncertainty continues to include the possibility of a major storm impacting the Eastern Seaboard.
Intensity, Will She Survive?
Who knows, Erika is seeming to have a mind of her own as she has not followed the official NHC track whatsoever over the last several days. Although this is true, over the past hour or two Erika has seemed to finally get her act together (or the NHC for that matter) in determining the track, because Erika’s center of circulation along with her discombobulated thunderstorms have seemingly begun to shift to the northwest. Erika is expected to strengthen at least to a higher-grade Tropical Storm by the NHC, and by a very consistent computer model, the GFDL, a major Category Four storm off of the Southeast Coast. But what is the driving force behind its intensity? Mountains…
Believe it or not, the only difference in the computer models is if Erika will be torn up enough by the mountains for it not to reform to a well-defined system. According to the NHC, Erika will be so torn up by Hispaniola’s mountains, that it will not be able to strengthen too significantly before potential impact with Florida. This whereas the GFDL computer model along with some others, suggest a less torn-up version of Erika and strengthen her rapidly, causing her to not impact Florida for too long and move her up the US East Coast quickly as a large Major Hurricane (as of 6 UTC.)
Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, all of Hispaniola, The Turks and Caicos, The Bahamas.
Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for parts of Cuba, and the northwest portions of The Bahamas.
Weather 360 3.A.S.: Tropical Storm Warning areas are under a Level I Emergency, Locations under Tropical Storm Watches are under a Level II Alert, and a Level III, Be Aware, statement is for the Entire East Coast from Florida to Massachussetts.
Weather 360 will continue to keep you updated on the progress of Erika.