Tropical Storm Erika to Lose Steam, but Death Toll Rising

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Erika is Headed for Florida.

The governor of Florida declared a state of emergency Friday ahead of Tropical Storm Erika, which has killed at least 12 people as it rakes the Caribbean. 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. Rick Scott said the storm constitutes a “severe threat.” It is forecast to hit Florida on Monday, but it’s not clear how strong the storm will be. “We’ve got concerns all across the state now because it’s going to be coming clear across the state,” Scott told reporters. While the storm is hitting the Caribbean hard right now, AccuWeather hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski believes Erika’s disjointed nature could weaken the storm before it hits South Beach this weekend. “If the center of Erika survives the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola, it should slowly reorganize back into a tropical storm this weekend, just northeast of Cuba,” Kottlowski said. “If Erica does not survive the interaction with Hispaniola, it may never reorganize into a coherent tropical storm again, and impact on Florida would be reduced.” “Erika has chosen to move across the Caribbean islands in the most difficult path possible,” Karins said. “All those mountains will tear the storm apart.” While there’s a chance the storm gets downgraded to a tropical depression by the time it reaches Florida, the National Hurricane Center predicts that Erika will remain categorized as a tropical storm. 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. Different forecasts for Erika have predicted different paths for the storm, but some suggest that the tropical storm could reach the Everglades as soon as Sunday night. There’s a chance it could regain some strength off northern Cuba and people in Florida should still keep an eye on it and brace for heavy rain, said John Cagialosi, a hurricane specialist at the center. “This is a potentially heavy rain event for a large part of the state,” he said. Sunday, as weather conditions permit, at all three County Public Works Service Units: Sandbag materials will be available for Hillsborough County residents to make their own sandbags.

At least two dozen people remained missing and authorities warned the death toll could rise. “There are additional bodies recovered but it is an ongoing operation,” Police Chief Daniel Carbon said, declining to provide specifics. “It will take us a couple of days to recover as many bodies as we can. 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. Scott encouraged families to make sure they have a disaster plan — particularly those who have moved to Florida since the last time it was struck by a hurricane a decade ago. “Unless something changes, we do not anticipate having to open up any shelters,” he said, but cautioned people should be prepared for a major “rain event.” Roosevelt Skerrit, the prime minister of the Caribbean island of Dominica, tweeted that 12 people were confirmed dead in heavy flooding there, “but the number may be higher.” He appealed for fresh water and supplies.

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. Residents may pick-up sandbags at the following locations: Tampa residents interested in receiving sandbags must show identification verifying residence within the city limits.

The storm previously slid to the south of Puerto Rico, knocking out power to more than 200,000 people and causing more than $5 million in damage to agriculture but causing no major damage or injuries. 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.”

People on the island told of narrowly escaping being engulfed by water as Erika downed trees and power lines while unleashing heavy floods that swept cars down streets and ripped scaffolding off some buildings. “I was preparing to go to work when all of a sudden I heard this loud noise and saw the place flooded with water,” said Shanie James, a 30-year-old mother who works at a bakery. “We had to run for survival.” Mudslides destroyed dozens of homes across Dominica, including that of 46-year-old security guard Peter Julian, who had joined friends after leaving work. “When I returned, I saw that my house that I have lived in for over 20 years was gone,” he said. “I am blessed to be alive. 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). 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.

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.

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