Tropical Storm Erika remained a weak and struggling system today as it continued moving quickly west across the Atlantic.
While the storm is expected to continue its westward movement as a weak and struggling tropical storm into the weekend, there is still a possibility that Erika could threaten the southeast coast, including coastal North Carolina, next week.
At 5 p.m., the center of Erika was located 195 miles east of the island of Antigua with winds still at 45 mph, and still moving west at a brisk 17 miles per hour.
The National Hurricane Center forecasts that a west-northwestward motion at a slightly slower forward speed is expected over the next 48 hours. On the forecast track, the center of Erika will move near or over portions of the Leeward Islands tonight, move near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday, and be near or just north of the north coast of the Dominican Republic on Friday.
Little change in strength is predicted over the next 48 hours, as the hurricane continues to battle wind shear and other unfavorable conditions.
“In fact,” the Hurricane Center says, “Erika could degenerate into a trough of low pressure due to the shear and interaction with the Greater Antilles.”
However, late in the weekend, that could change.
After three days, as the hurricane approaches the Bahamas, the Hurricane Center says that the upper-level environment is forecast to become more conducive for development and all of the guidance, including the global models, show intensification. Therefore, the NHC Day 4 and 5 forecasts call for some strengthening, although how much is far from certain.
“After that time,” the Hurricane Center says, “the global models show a weakness in the ridge developing over the far western Atlantic, which should cause Erika to turn northwestward.”
Right now the five-day forecast shows the storm as a hurricane just off the east coast of Florida on Monday afternoon.
Many forecasters seem to agree at this point that if Erika stays weak, it is more likely to push into Florida, while if it strengthens, it is more likely to turn to the north before it reaches the coast.
One model earlier today showed the storm moving across the Outer Banks on Thursday as a hurricane, though all meteorologists stress that forecasts that far out are notoriously unreliable. Other models call for a variety of solutions, many involving the southeast in some way.
Interests along the southeast coast should stay abreast of updated forecasts from the National Hurricane Center at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/.
Erika becomes fifth tropical storm of the season