A National Hurricane Center track posted Thursday night includes all of coastal Georgia, as well as Florida’s entire Atlantic coast, in Tropical Storm Erica’s five-day cone of uncertainty.
More concerning for residents of coastal Georgia and Florida, the track shows Erika reaching hurricane strength after it emerges from the Bahamas.
It should be noted that five days out, the storm track is far from being set in stone. The western edge of the cone of uncertainty that far out is actually places the storm off Florida’s Gulf Coast, while the eastern edge has it far off the Atlantic coasts of Florida and Georgia.
Also, the strength of the storm can change depending on how much interference it encounters from land and wind shear, which ripped apart what had been a powerful Hurricane Danny just a few days ago well out in the Atlantic. In fact, Erika weakened slightly Thursday afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center.
By Tuesday, the cone of uncertainty shows Erika being hurricane strength from as far north as Charleston, South Carolina, to as far south as roughly St. Augustine, Florida — again, with a wide east-west possible range. (See the image accompanying this article.)
As of 11 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Erika was located about 85 miles south-southwest of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, about 135 miles south-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, or about 1,380 miles southeast of Hinesville. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and is moving to the west at 17 mph. A turn to the west-northwest is expected Friday, and this general motion is expected to continue for the next 48 hours, which would put the center of Erika near Puerto Rico early Friday and near or over the Dominican Republic on Friday.
St. Croix reported a 62-mph wind gust Thursday night. Tropical storm conditions were affecting the Virgin Islands Thursday night and were expected to spread across Puerto Rico in the early morning hours Friday, then across portions of the Dominican Republic, and then the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands late Friday.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for much of the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and the northern border of the Dominican Republic’s northern border with Haiti, the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and a tropical storm watch has been issued for the Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Punta Palenque and the central Bahamas. The National Hurricane Center advises that interests elsewhere in the Dominican Republic and Haiti should monitor Erika’s progress.
The bottom line is, it would be prudent for anyone in coastal Georgia to keep track of Tropical Storm Erika’s progress and be prepared in case the storm does affect the local area.
You can track the storm at www.nhc.noaa.gov. The National Hurricane Center posts updates on Erika’s latest condition, position and track at 5 and 11 a.m. and 5 and 11 p.m., with intermediate advisories at 2 and 8 a.m. and 2 and 8 p.m.
Check back with coastalcourier.com for updates as they are warranted.