ERIKA set to intensify and shaping up for Florida
Tropical storm ERIKA is in the Caribbean now, currently just over 100 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, slightly north of westbound at 11 knots. The upper level shear/dry air wobble has continued and there has not been significant intensification since our report yesterday. Winds are still around 40 knots with gusts up to 55 knots and hurricane severity index rating is just 3 (1 for size and 2 for intensity) with a wider wind field radius now of 150 miles. Whilst we would not expect a dramatic increase in windfield, intensity will increase but by how much is far from certain.
Wobbling slowed ERIKA down but has picked up again and should begin to move west-nor'west and start to intensify now. The current track is for the cyclone to move over Puerto Rico and then clip the Dominican Republic to the north. Thereafter, it is likely to move through the western Bahamas and then up the coast of Florida. Any deviation to the west of our forecast track would result in a landfall in Florida. This is still a strong possibility but not quite as firm as yesterday. As ERIKA approaches Florida, wind shear will disappear and the system will have free rein to intensify, and most observers are adding the word 'significantly', some even discussing an intense hurricane. There remains the wild card that the system will track into Hispaniola and weaken. One hopes, of course.
Disturbance thirty two continues to waste time and effort in mid-Atlantic, north of track in dry air but is pressing on regardless at 9 knots to the west. A new disturbance thirty three has just left the African coast and is westbound. Two more low pressure cells are lining up ashore to join the seasonal convoy over the coming week or so. Storm cones aloft over the Bahamas and Florida, otherwise stand easy.