Tags: tropical storm | erika | caribbean | florida | el nino

Tropical Storm Erika Strengthens, Expected to Hit Florida

Image: Tropical Storm Erika Strengthens, Expected to Hit Florida
Monitoring storms at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Thursday, 27 Aug 2015 08:26 AM

 Tropical storm Erika continued to strengthen as it reached the Eastern Caribbean and appeared to be headed for the U.S. East Coast early next week, the National Hurricane Center said on Thursday.

Erika could reach hurricane status near Florida's eastern coast by Monday morning, the Miami-based government forecaster said.

The last hurricane to hit Florida was Wilma in October 2005.

While the forecasters can be reasonably certain of Erika's path using computer models, give or take a couple of hundred miles, its intensity is harder to predict and it could fall apart as it passes over land and battles hostile winds.

Last week the season's first hurricane, Danny, rapidly dissipated as the storm reached the Caribbean islands.

The Florida State Emergency Operations Center was partially activated on Wednesday as officials monitored the advancing storm.

Erika, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, currently was 85 miles (140 km) west of Guadalupe with maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour (80 kph). It was expected to reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by Thursday evening, before passing north of the Dominican Republic on Friday and continuing in a northwesterly direction over the Bahamas.

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, St. Martin/St Maarten, St. Barthelemy, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius.

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.

The U.S. government's annual forecast shows a quieter-than-normal 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, with six to 10 named storms and up to four reaching hurricane status of 74 mph (119 kph).

Forecasters warn, however, that quieter-than-average years in the past have seen some of the most destructive storms in history, such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that devastated South Florida.

Among the factors in this year's predicted weaker hurricane season is the El Niño weather phenomenon, the warming of Pacific waters that affects wind circulation patterns and makes the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic-Caribbean basin less likely.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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Tropical storm Erika continued to strengthen as it reached the Eastern Caribbean and appeared to be headed for the U.S. East Coast early next week, the National Hurricane Center said on Thursday.
tropical storm, erika, caribbean, florida, el nino
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2015-26-27
Thursday, 27 Aug 2015 08:26 AM
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