Erratic Erika Heading Toward Hispaniola

Storm Still Packing A Punch With Heavy Rains

On the eve of the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina landfall along the Gulf Coast, portions of the United States coastline is on alert for another tropical troublemaker.  Tropical Storm Erika, which formed earlier this week is moving through the Eastern Caribbean, and is headed for the rugged terrain of the island of Hispaniola.

According to the 5:00 PM EDT Advisory on Friday, August 28th from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, Erika continues to be erratic.  After weakening a bit on Thursday night, Erika rejuvenated a bit today, and now has winds of 50 miles per hour again.  Wind gusts are up to 60 miles per hour.  Minimum central pressure is still quite high at 1009 millibars, or 29.80 inches of Hg.  

The storm is moving quite briskly to the West at 21 miles per hour.  The strong westward motion is not the only problem with Erika.  Now, the storm is moving into a very mountainous region as it lies just to the south of the island of Hispaniola, which contains the Dominican Republic and Haiti.  Erika is presently located some 95 miles to the West-Southwest of the capital of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

Mountains in the Dominican Republic and Haiti can get as high as 8,000 feet in places.  This rugged terrain is very likely to tear the fledgling circulation of Erika apart.  A struggling storm like this interacting with land is usually difficult, but when you factor in mountains, the environment and obstacles are too much to handle.  The forecast is calling for Erika to weaken to a depression before re-emerging over water again to the north of Hispaniola.  The track of the storm after that is expected to push northward toward Florida.

Within the past 24 hours, the Sunshine State was put under a State of Emergency.  The forecast with Erika has been very difficult.  The NHC has had a tough time getting a good fix on this storm, and that is probably because of the fact that it is still a weak system.  The cone of uncertainty has the storm ether ending up slightly west of Florida, or slightly east over the next 5 days.  So, people along the Gulf Coast and even further up the Southeast coast in Georgia and South Carolina must pay close attention to this storm.  Either scenario could lead to strengthening since Erika would have access to sufficiently warm water.

However, Erika’s expected weakening over the mountains of Hispaniola could significantly change the game for its track, and could cause it to move further to the west.  A scenario that could have it end up further along in the Gulf, where waters are extremely warm this time of year.  Despite the late start to the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the emergence of El Nino, which has contributed to the slow start, and dearth of hurricanes, things are showing signs of picking up just in time for the peak season.