The Latest: Tropical Storm Erica expected to be downgraded

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Caribbean Hit by Erika.

Miami-Dade officials say they’re not planning for a hurricane as Tropical Storm Erika follows a path more favorable to the Miami area than the course forecasters had projected in recent days. “The good news is that the tropical storm appears to be moving on a western track and moving south and west of the projected track from the Hurricane Center,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said at a 3 p.m. press conference at the county’s Emergency Operations Center in Doral. “It’s less probable we will have a wind event here in South Florida. But we won’t know that until it emerges from Hispaniola.” Gimenez said flooding and water damage from torrential downpours remain a concern, and the county’s schools chief said he may decide to cancel Monday classes as early as Saturday afternoon if Erika maintains its current track.

Authorities in Dominica had said at least four people were killed and about 20 were missing after Erika drenched the land and caused rivers to surge on the mountainous island. In Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located and which has already been saturated by mammoth rainfalls his summer, workers were handing out 25 sandbags per household. “If we get a lot of rain there, that’s probably one of our biggest concerns,” said Scott, who urged Tampa Bay residents to prepare for a deluge. “You need three days of water, three days of food.” Jeff Masters of Weather Underground said even if Erika weakens, already soggy Tampa and St.

After his own private briefing, Gimenez said he was hopeful that Erika’s path through Hispaniola and possibly Cuba could break it up into even less of a threat. He predicted it would be another 24 hours at least before an official count would be released. “There are additional bodies recovered but it is an ongoing operation,” Carbon said. “It will take us a couple of days to recover as many bodies as we can. So the count will increase.” Erika is a particularly wet storm, and was expected to dump up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain across the drought-stricken northern Caribbean as it headed toward the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas and the U.S.

Forecasters no longer expected it would strike Florida as a hurricane but still considered it likely that it would reach the state as a tropical storm starting late Sunday, said Chris Landsea, a meteorologist with the U.S. Earlier, Erika lashed Puerto Rico with heavy rains and wind after killing four people and causing devastating floods on the island of Dominica was marching westward across the Caribbean toward the Sunshine State.

It was also considered possible that the storm would dissipate as it passes over the mountains of Hispaniola, the island that includes the Dominican Republic and Haiti. “It is unlikely at this point to become a hurricane,” Landsea said. “The main threat will be rainfall. Thousands across the island remained without power. “Erika has really, really visited us with a vengeance,” Assistance Police Superintendent Claude Weekes told The Associated Press. “There are many fallen rocks and trees, and water. The inspections require inspectors to climb roofs and perform other duties that can only be safely done during daylight, Carvalho said. “This storm is scheduled to have an impact on the South Florida community sometime Sunday night,” he said. “The fact that our schools cannot be inspected at night make it very, very difficult for us to open schools Monday morning.” Other factors that could close schools Monday: if winds were forecast to be over 39 mph, or if localized flooding made it too hard for children to make it to their schools.

Officials say residents should prepare by filling vehicles’ gas tanks, stockpiling a few days’ of food and water, and determining whether they live in an evacuation zone. Geovanny Batista cleared garbage from a ditch next to his house in an impoverished community in the capital while his wife bought food for the family. The National Guard has been alerted, with about 8,000 members ready to mobilize if needed, he said. “We’ve got concerns all across the state because we know it’s going to be coming clear across the state,” he said. “There’s so many people who’ve moved here since we had a hurricane. Tides are somewhat higher than normal,” said Gimenez, a former fire chief for Miami. “It may not be we can get rid of the water as quickly as we want.”

With the entire country under threat, the Civil Protection Office has been posting updates on Twitter and airing radio spots concerning the possible dangers and storm’s track. If it does survive, however, they warn Erika could still rebound Sunday when wind shear dies down and estimate winds could top 60 mph in three days by its estimated Monday landfall in Florida.

That’s because strong winds aloft are weakening the storm — called wind shear — and that’s typical for years with an El Nino, like the current one. Since buses can’t operate in winds of 39 miles per hour or more, officials will monitor forecasts for the district, where more than 60,000 students ride school buses in Miami-Dade. Meteorologists say the potential for heavy rainfall, flooding, rip currents and storm watches/warnings will emerge over the weekend as the system moves closer to the U.S. I have lost everything and now have to start all over again.” Also in the Pacific, Jimena strengthened to a hurricane Friday morning with maximum sustained winds near 90 mph (150 kph). Another factor: whether schools will be used as shelters for people who have to evacuate. “For Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the safety and security of students and staff is our number one priority, and will always be the most important factor in our decisions,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement.

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