We have a new threat in the tropical Atlantic this morning as Tropical Storm Erika formed during the overnight hours. As of midday Tuesday, Erika was only sitting about 730 miles east of the Leeward Islands and quickly moving to the west at 20 mph. The system had sustained winds of 45 mph.
Due to the quick movement of Erika, Tropical Storm Watches have already been placed for parts of the Leeward Islands. As of midday Tuesday, this included the following islands: Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions (winds of 39-73 mph) are possible in these areas within the next 48 hours.
(LATEST TROPICAL MAPS: AerisWeather Tropical Center)
Tropical Storm Erika Forecast
Strength: The good news (if you call it that) for Erika is the storm is sitting in an area of weaker wind shear and higher moisture – kind of like Danny was last week. That should help Erika slowly gain strength over the next few days. As Erika continues to move to the west and northwest, it is expected the system will begin to meet the same circumstances that brought Danny (dry air and higher wind shear). Erika is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 Hurricane this weekend according to the National Hurricane Center. That isn’t certain, though, as there is definitely some disagreement in the models with how strong the system gets over the next few days. This is in part due to the environment that Erika will be moving into. Add on top of that that any interaction with the Caribbean islands also has the potential to impact the future strength of this system. A lot is up in the air at the moment.
Movement: Erika is expected to take a turn to the west-northwest over the next couple days as the system rides along the southern edge of a ridge. How strong the system is will make a difference in the overall path of this storm. A stronger system will likely trend to get pulled further to the northeast. A weaker system would likely be able to travel a bit more to the south and west.
Due to the potential path and added uncertainty, people in the northeast Caribbean, Bahamas and southeast United States should keep an eye on this Erika over the next few days.
(CHECK OUT YOUR FORECAST: wx.aerisweather.com)
– Meteorologist D.J. Kayser