UPDATE: 10 a.m. Friday
National Weather Service (NWS) officials say the potential for any tropical storm force impacts are diminishing across our area as a result of Erika’s latest shift toward Florida.
“Poorly organized Erika is now forecast to remain a tropical storm as it tracks across Hispaniola and toward south Florida,” said Steve Pfaff of the Wilmington NWS. “If the storm retains its integrity and does make landfall across Florida then a potential track across the inland Carolinas could cause a risk for tornadoes and heavy rain later in the upcoming week.”
NWS officials expect Erika to make landfall on the southern tip of the Florida coastline 2 a.m Monday. Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency earlier this morning in preparation for the storm’s impact.
National Weather Service (NWS) officials are still uncertain if Tropical Storm Erika will make landfall locally as the storm’s interaction with the more mountainous Caribbean islands could hinder its evolution through Friday night.
“Although tropical storm force wind probabilities have diminished slightly across our coastal areas all interests should maintain a high level of situational awareness,” said Steve Pfaff, a representative of the NWS in Wilmington.
According to Pfaff, the current track has the storm making landfall with the U.S. coastline farther south off the coast of Florida as a result of the center breaking and reforming. This may allow the center to cross Puerto Rico and possibly Hispaniola, potentially disrupting its circulation.
Erika is expected to move across the Bahamas this weekend and could re-strengthen as atmospheric conditions become more favorable.
“It’s too early to define specific timing of the storm or its potential impact,” said Tom Collins, director of Pender County Emergency Management.
As the East Coast enters into its peak storm season, residents should be pro-active.
Collins suggested residents should assemble a supply kit that includes at least one gallon of water per person, a flashlight with extra batteries, a weather radio, a manual can opener, and non-perishable food items.
A complete list of supply items can be found online here.