As Tropical Storm Erika continues early Friday to lash Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with heavy rain and strong winds, forecasters say it could weaken or even peter out before hitting Florida,UPI reports.
As of 5 a.m. Friday, the National Hurricane Center said strong wind shear is taking a toll on the storm, causing uncertainty about the forecast in the coming days. Forecasters said the next 48 hours will be crucial to determining the path and strength of the storm, depending on how it recovers from the effects of wind shear and interaction from land. The storm is moving about 17 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.
“Strong shear is expected to continue or even increase during the next day or so. The combination of the shear and interaction with Hispaniola suggests that Erika is likely to weaken and could even dissipate in the next 12 to 24 hours,” forecasters said.
On its current track, the center of the storm will move over the Dominican Republic on Friday, near the Turks and Caicos Islands on Friday night and on to central and northwestern Bahamas on Saturday and Saturday night.
Authorities in Puerto Rico closed some roads in anticipation of up to 12 inches of rain, which could bring dangerous flash floods or landslides. The storm already battered parts of Dominica on Thursday, killing four including a blind man and two children. Another 20 or so people are missing and up to 20 homes have been destroyed.
The next update from the National Hurricane Center is expected at 8 a.m.