As of Thursday morning, Erika's winds have picked up a little but remains poorly organized.
An early morning recon mission detected winds of around 50 mph, thats a jump from 40 mph from Wednesday night.
Recon is still checking Erika because today and tomorrow will be very important in determining how strong it may be as it aims for Florida.
This situation where the western side of Erika is cloudless and and all the rain is on the east side, suggests very strong upper winds keeping Erika from organizing further.
The models show the environment around Erika remaining unfavorable for further strengthening over the next 48 hours.
Erika is churning along to the west with a turn toward the northwest expected by this afternoon or early evening.
If nothing changes, the center of Erika will move near the Virgin Islands later today.
Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles mainly to the north and east of the center.
What is happening now?
Wind and rain will continue to impact the Lesser Antilles. Tropical storm conditions are expected to continue over portions of Leeward Islands then reaching Virgin Islands later today and Puerto Rico tonight.
Erika will continue to drop rain in amounts of 3-5 inches and as much as 8 over portions of the Leeward Islands.
Next in Line?
Tropical storm conditions will reach Puerto Rico later this evening and parts of Dominican Republic by Friday and the southeastern Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Islands by Friday night.
Rain totals will be between 3-5 inches over the area.
This is from NWS in San Juan, PR:
From San Juan Office:
ON THE FORECAST TRACK...ERIKA IS EXPECTED TO PASS NORTH OF SAN
JUAN PUERTO RICO TONIGHT THROUGH EARLY FRIDAY MORNING.
MAJOR CONCERN CONTINUE TO BE RAINFALL ACTIVITY. RAINFALL ESTIMATES OVER
THE LOCAL AREA ARE EXPECTED TO BE BETWEEN 3 AND 5 INCHES WITH
ISOLATED MAXIMUMS OF 8 INCHES POSSIBLE. PLEASE REFER TO TCPAT5
AND WFO SJU TROPICAL PRODUCTS FOR DETAILS.
The shear that has been impacting Erika and keeping her in check will relax and allow the system to grow if it can survive the next 48 hours.
NHC says, the HWRF and GFDL keep Erika stronger than the statistical while the GFS and ECMWF keep Erika weaker than they did previously.
The forecast has been adjusted upward slightly late in the period, but is well below the intensity consensus given the large uncertainty and spread in the guidance.
So if Erika can defy the odds, it may be close to South Florida by early Sunday/Monday of next week. There is plenty of hot water just offshore to allow Erika to grow stronger. Models hint at the possibility of a category 1 storm.
What should you do?
Stay informed. Plenty of things can change between now and Friday.
For the time being just review your storm plans, make sure you have on hand the supplies you will, and sit tight and wait for Erika's next move.
Check out our on-line prep page for helpful hints.
Click here for a helpful prep guide
SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for...
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Maarten
* St. Martin
* St. Barthelemy
* Antigua and Barbuda
* St. Kitts and Nevis
* Puerto Rico
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* British Virgin Islands
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for...
* North coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Cabo
* Southeastern Bahamas
* Turks and Caicos Islands
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are
possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
Meanwhile locally its not a Tropical Storm but it sure feels like it. We will remain with a good chance for storms through the end of the week and beyond if Erika is around.
This is from NWS Miami office:
WEAK MID LEVEL TROUGH AXIS ACROSS THE GULF OF MEXICO COMBINED
WITH DEEP MOISTURE IN PLACE IS ALLOWING NUMEROUS SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS TO CONTINUE ACROSS THE EXTREME SOUTHERN TIP OF
FLORIDA THIS MORNING.
GENERAL SOUTHWESTERLY STEERING FLOW SHOULD
ALLOW FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE CONVECTION THROUGH THE DAY TO FOCUS
ACROSS THE INTERIOR AND NORTHEAST COAST.