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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida is keeping close tabs on Tropical Storm Erika which has not made a predicted turn to the northwest yet and continues to be centered in the Caribbean just south of the Dominican Republic.
The farther west it goes the less likely we are to see major impacts in South Florida because it still needs to make that turn and cross the mountains of Hispaniola and possibly even Cuba before getting to South Florida.
The updated National Hurricane Center forecast track shifted to the west of its previous forecast early Friday and no longer brings Erika to South Florida as a hurricane. The track does however take what could be a good sized tropical storm into the area which could leave us with very heavy rainfall totals and possible flooding from Sunday through at least the middle of next week.
While some parts of the state do not need the rain, we certainly do here locally and the rain from Erika could be just what we need to get us back to normal and officially end the drought.
On Friday, at 11 a.m., top winds were still right around 50 mph but the strongest winds were east of the center as moderate to strong wind shear continues to keep Erika disorganized.
The next 24 hours are crucial for Erika and South Florida. Erika could dissipate over the mountains of Hispaniola, or even Cuba or it could cling to life and get stronger once it comes out into the Atlantic where conditions are more favorable for strengthening.
The forecast track continues to shift to the west and Erika is not expected to be a hurricane upon its approach to South Florida. However, on this track South Florida would be on the “dirty”, wetter side of the storm and flooding rain is possible for a good portion of the state from Sunday into the middle of next week.
Anything could happen in the next 24 hours so it is important that all of South Florida keep up to date on Erika’s progress.
There are still no watches or warnings in effect for South Florida but they may be issued late Friday. Systems like Erika have produced 1-2 feet of rain in parts of Florida in the past and we definitely have to remain on high alert for flooding next week.
If the upcoming forecast track keeps moving further west then we would see our rainfall totals cut significantly.