Floridians are being urged to take caution as Tropical Storm Erika approaches. “It is hurricane season and people should have provisions on hand, including at least three days’ worth of water and food,” Kimberly Prosser, the Director of Brevard County Emergency Management, told FloridaToday. Let the Hurricane parties begin!
Update, 8 a.m. Friday:
Tropical Storm Erika continues its west-northwest trek at 17 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The center of Erika moved over the Dominican Republic today, near the Turks and Caicos Islands tonight and near the Bahamas Saturday.
Some weakening is expected today as the storm moves over land, but could gain strength again into the weekend.
Brevard County emergency management officials are continuing to monitor Erika’s progress and are advising residents to shore up plans as the storm continues to increase in strength in the Atlantic.
Wednesday, Erika was moving west at 16 mph and was expected to move overnight through the Leeward Islands. Computer models showed that the storm will edge close to Puerto Rico before taking a northwest turn through the Bahamas by the weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center. A Hurricane Hunter aircraft sent to examine the storm shows that Erika has grown slightly stronger with maximum sustained winds at 45 mph.
Forecasters say little change in intensity is expected over the next 48 hours, but its forward motion could increase.
In Brevard County, emergency management officials are at a Level 3 status, which means they are monitoring the storm’s development and are in contact with state officials and meteorologists. Kimberly Prosser, the director of Brevard County Emergency Management says Brevard’s residents should revisit their hurricane plans.
“This is the point where you should start planning whether you’re going to evacuate, where you’re going to go, how you’re going to communicate, all of that. You want to be ready to start making your decisions,” said Prosser, adding that the agency is also reaching out to a number of public safety entities to ensure that they are aware of the storm’s potential threat.
Residents should also already have food and water stocked for emergencies, she added.
“It is hurricane season and people should have provision on hand, including at least three days’ worth of water and food,” Prosser said.
The storm’s forecast track, or the area through which forecasters think the storm will most likely travel over the next five days, included much of the east coast of Florida. Residents are encouraged to monitor Erika’s progress closely as it could make landfall as a hurricane early Monday.
National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Bragaw said residents should start taking early precautions.
“At this point, this storm is still a good five days away based on the latest forecast,” Bragaw said. “I would start doing preliminary checklists, making sure that any supplies that you might need are stocked.”
He also said there’s no reason for residents to panic, either.
“I’m not running out to Lowe’s tomorrow to buy six pieces of plywood to slap on my door tomorrow,” he added Tuesday night.
Peter Ray, a professor meteorology at Florida State University, says while it’s still too soon to say for sure, Erika will likely turn to the north after passing over the Leeward Islands, brush Hispaniola, bringing needed rainfall, and affect the southern Bahamas by this weekend.
“At this time, the less aggressive turns look more favorable. But that could change even by tomorrow. But it may be as late as Friday.”
“Early Monday Erika will either go through the Florida Straights, make landfall in the Miami area as a hurricane, or go up the East coast and maybe hit North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It probably will be a couple of days to tell which of the competing steering forces has the edge,” Ray said Wednesday morning.
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Guadeloupe.A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
Tropical storm conditions are expected in the Leeward Islands tonight, Puerto Rico on Thursday and portions of the Dominican Republic on Friday.
We will continue to monitor Erika over the weekend.