Barely a tropical storm, Erika expected to weaken
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MIAMI, Florida — Tropical Storm Erika, poorly organized and barely clinging to tropical-storm status, spread wind and rain across the northeastern Caribbean early Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.
Erika’s winds were near 40 mph (65 kph), with higher gusts, forecasters said. If its winds drop below 39 mph, Erika will become a tropical depression.
“Gradual weakening is likely over the next day or so,” according to the hurricane center.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect for the islands of Dominica, Guadeloupe, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius. A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions, including winds of at least 39 mph, are possible within 24 hours.
A tropical storm watch, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible within 36 hours, was in effect for Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. The Dominican Republic and Haiti, meanwhile, were advised to monitor the storm’s progress.
As of 2 a.m. ET, Erika’s center was about 80 miles (130 km) west of Guadeloupe and about 275 miles (445 km) east-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, the hurricane center said. It was moving west-northwest at near 5 mph (7 km/hr).
“On the forecast track, the weather associated with Erika will continue to move through the Leeward Islands this morning and approach the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico later today,” the hurricane center said.
The storm, which formed Tuesday evening, briefly strengthened overnight Wednesday before losing much of its steam.
Rainfall is expected to total 2 to 4 inches in the Lesser Antilles over the next few days, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches. Between 3 to 5 inches of rain are forecast for Puerto Rico, with isolated amounts up to 8 inches.
Tropical storm-force winds extended outward about 230 miles (370 km) to the east of Erika’s center, the hurricane center said.
Tracking maps show Erika brushing the northern part of Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, before nearing the Bahamas on Sunday.
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