The National Weather Service in Wilmington says the long-term forecast for the area “totally depends” on whether Erika strengthens while passing the Caribbean this weekend.
The storm is moving to the west at 17 miles per hour and a west to west- northwestward motion is expected over the next 48 hours.
Tropical Storm Erika was expected to hit the Leeward Islands as early as Wednesday night as its treks across the Caribbean and could impact South Florida by Monday.
Erika was expected to produce 3 to 5 inches of rain across portions of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic through Friday, offering some relief from recent drought conditions. Maximum sustained winds increased Wednesday morning to near 45 miles per hour, but the storm was not forecast to gain strength over the next two days.
Erika strengthened slightly overnight and could reach hurricane status over Florida by Monday morning, the Miami-based government forecaster said, but its future intensity was uncertain due to possible wind disruption.
In the meantime, tropical storm warnings are in effect across the Caribbean, including in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Experts said earlier this month that there was a 90 per cent chance the 2015 hurricane season in the Atlantic would be less active than usual. Maximum sustained winds in the storm are estimated at 45mph.
Erika remains weak at the moment in the face of wind shear, however the investigation follows the recognition that convection within the storm is improving.
As Tropical Storm Ericka continued moving toward the Lesser Antilles, NASA’s Aqua and other satellites were gathering data. Little change in strength is expected during that time.
Tropical Storm Erika is a long way away from the United States, but many forecast models suggest the storm may take a path toward southeast Florida next week. Please keep in mind that we are looking at a system that is 6 to7 days away and there are many factors that have to come to fruition before we can firmly say that we will be impacted by Erika.
Despite a quiet first half of the hurricane season across the Atlantic, late August through September are typically the peak of tropical activity.