September 2, 2009

Erika to Graze Caribbean Islands

Newly-formed Tropical Strom Erica continues to churn over the central Atlantic Ocean.

Erika will graze the northwestern Caribbean Islands with bands of rain and gusty winds the next few days, then will have to be monitored for its possible impacts on the United States next week.

Erika became the fifth named tropical system in the Atlantic Tuesday afternoon. The storm remains disorganized at this time due to an interaction with drier air and wind shear.

These factors will likely keep Erika at tropical storm status into at least Friday. If the shear weakens, Erika could strengthen into a hurricane over the weekend. The storm may be pushing north of the Bahamas at this time.

Prior to potentially becoming a hurricane, Erika will graze the Leeward Islands, the United States and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico withgusty winds and bands of heavy rain through Friday. These conditions will reach the northwestern-most islands later today.

High surf will also pound the north- and east-facing beaches of the Caribbean islands for a time.

Residents and visitors along the East Coast should monitor the progress of Erika. It is not out of the question that Erika impacts the region, at least with rough surf, around the middle of next week.

While Erika churns near the Caribbean Islands, a stalled front will produce drenching showers and thunderstorms over northern Florida today. Flash flooding could ensue.

By Kristina Pydynowski

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