Florida Watches Storm Erika’s Path Through the Caribbean

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Eastern Caribbean Awaits Tropical Storm Erika.

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Tropical Storm Erika continues to head westward toward the Leeward Islands after strengthening slightly earlier Wednesday morning. MIAMI — Tropical storm warnings were in effect on Wednesday for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as Erika, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, closed in on the Eastern Caribbean and appeared to be heading for Florida, the US National Hurricane Center said.

It’s still expected to turn into a category 1 hurricane by this weekend, Marty Bass reports, although he said it’s hard to tell what will happen to the storm after Sunday — after it hits the Gulf Stream. “Erika is moving much faster than Danny did. 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. “We are preparing the protective and responsive measures we will need if the storm continues to develop out of an abundance of caution,” said Director Bryan W. The state’s Division of Emergency Management issued an email notice to Florida residents and visitors advising them to keep an eye on local news for further instructions and to be sure they have disaster supply kits fully stocked and evacuation plans in place. Erika was expected to move just north of Barbuda late Wednesday as it enters the Caribbean, said Philmore Mullin, director of Antigua and Barbuda’s National Office of Disaster Services.

He said the twin-island nation could experience flash flooding given the extremely dry conditions caused by the worst drought to hit the Caribbean in recent years. In Brevard County, emergency management officials are at a Level 3 status, which means they are monitoring the storm’s development and are in contact with state officials and meteorologists.

You want to be ready to start making your decisions,” said Prosser, adding that the agency is also reaching out to a number of public safety entities to ensure that they are aware of the storm’s potential threat. While some models forecast the storm to either dissipate or hook out to sea east of the Bahamas, a large number of their simulations forecast the storm center to be very close to South Florida Sunday night. Clearly, this storm poses a potential threat to both the Bahamas and Florida where residents and tourists should be starting to think about hurricane preparedness and a plan of action. The biggest brake to intensification is an expected increase in wind shear on Thursday and Friday before relaxing some Saturday when Erika would be near the Bahamas. (Note that in the plot below, the GFS model actually dissipates the storm due to the destructive wind shear, while it survives in the other models.) Forecast model intensity forecasts vary widely, from low-end tropical storm to major hurricane strength by Sunday.

And while the forecast cone stretches over South Florida, forecasters warned that the predictions are less precise the further they reach into the future. Kenneth Mapp. “This is a fast-moving storm, and so we expect conditions to deteriorate rapidly,” he said, warning that authorities would not rescue anyone during tropical storm force winds. Simulations from last night’s four leading computer models for Sunday evening, including two global ones (ECMWF and GFS) and two regional ones (HWRF and GFDL) present vastly different scenarios.

The Saffir-Simpson scale measures potential property damage from a storm, with hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher considered “major,” with a potential for significant loss of life and damage. Antigua-based regional airline LIAT and Puerto Rico-based Seaborne Airlines have canceled more than two dozen flights through Friday because of the storm, and officials in Puerto Rico said they would suspend ferry transportation between the main island and the popular sister islands of Culebra and Vieques starting Thursday. The latest 7-day rainfall forecast from the Weather Prediction Center includes a 1-foot bullseye right off the southeast Florida coast, with significant totals all along the entire peninsula.

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