By Donna Thomas, SouthFloridaReporter.com Meteorologist, Aug 27, 2015 – South Florida will see more afternoon showers and storms on Thursday as we continue to watch Tropical Storm Erika. Thursday here will feature highs near 90 degrees and widespread afternoon storms, some of which could be strong. Heavy downpours and dangerous lightning are possible with these storms, and we’ll see them return on Friday afternoon as well. Friday’s highs will be near 90 degrees. Saturday will be a bit drier, but we can’t rule out afternoon storms in spots. Saturday’s highs will be in the low 90s. Tropical Storm Erika is forecast to make its closest approach to South Florida late Sunday into late Monday, so our weather will depend on its track and strength, both of which are quite uncertain.
Tropical Storm Erika continues to battle wind shear, but it may have strengthened slightly overnight, based on conflicting data from USAF Hurricane Hunters. The National Hurricane Center estimated maximum sustained winds at 50 miles per hour in its 5 am advisory package. At 5 am Thursday, Erika was located near 16.6 North, 61.5 West, and was moving west at 16 miles per hour. After moving through the Leeward Islands Thursday morning, Erika will pass over or close to Puerto Rico overnight. It is forecast to be near the Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas early Saturday. Computer models diverge in how close Erika will come to the Florida coast, with some models keeping the system west of the central and northwestern Bahamas and others continuing to show Erika skirting the southeast Florida coast. Erika is forecast to reach Category 1 strength on Sunday, due to a much more favorable environment. Virtually all of Florida remains in the 5-day “cone.” All of us in South Florida will need to watch Erika’s progress closely and be ready to take action if necessary.
Here are some things you can do now to prepare if South Florida comes under watches or warnings for Erika or any future storm. First, review your hurricane plan. Know if you live in an evacuation zone, and if you do, know where you’ll go if an evacuation is ordered. Make sure your hurricane supplies are ready. Check for sufficient water, food, medications, and batteries, and get anything you need now, before the stores are overwhelmed. Make sure your car’s gas tank is topped off. Get some extra cash in case power is out and ATMs aren’t working. Saturday would be the day to put up shutters if that becomes necessary.