Florida Governor Declares State of Emergency as Tropical Storm Erika Lashes Hispaniola

Florida Governor Declares State of Emergency
Photo Courtesy: UPI

MIAMI, Aug. 28 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Erika brought heavy rains to Puerto Rico and Hispaniola Friday as it shifted south of the islands instead of north on a path headed toward Florida on Monday.

Forecasters say Erika remains disorganized but still packs strong winds and heavy rains. Because of strong wind shear and the disruption it will face when crossing Hispaniola’s mountains, National Hurricane Center says Erika will remain weak or even dissipate before hitting Florida early Monday morning.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Friday morning declared a state of emergency across all counties ahead of the storm. On Thursday he urged residents to “Get ready.” Erika is currently forecast to make landfall in Florida as a strong tropical storm.

NHC forecasters have had trouble predicting Erika’s future because of strong wind shear that is expected to continue through Saturday as the storm crosses Hispaniola’s mountains. Despite the obstacles, the storm has maintained sustained winds of 50 mph with a Hurricane Hunter aircraft recorded still higher winds Friday morning in one section of the storm.

Erika is forecast to track between Cuba and the Bahamas, where it will face more favorable conditions for strengthening Saturday and Sunday. Its expected track shifted to the west Friday morning, having it cross over the Florida Keys and move up the state’s southwest Gulf coast Monday morning with winds of 60 mph.

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 2 p.m. Eastern.


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