Tropical Storm Erika a travel threat

Tropical Storm Erika is not expected to come near the Cayman Islands, but it could interrupt air travel for those heading to Miami or London through the Bahamas. 

As of Wednesday morning, Erika was about 285 miles east-southeast of Antigua and moving west at 17 miles per hour. Its maximum sustained winds were 45 mph. 

The Cape Verde-type storm, which organized after coming off Africa as a tropical wave, is forecast to turn to the northwest and head toward the Bahamas, passing close to Nassau on Sunday morning and then making landfall in South Florida close to Fort Lauderdale early Monday. 

Although Erika is not expected to strengthen much over the next two or three days because of moderate upper-level wind shear, the storm is forecast to start intensifying Sunday, moving through the Bahamas as a strong tropical storm and making landfall in Florida as a Category 1 hurricane. 

The National Hurricane Center in Miami noted that while there was good general track agreement among major forecasting models, the track errors over the past five years have been about 180 miles four days out, and about 240 miles five days out. It therefore reminded the public not to focus on the exact forecast track when looking long range. 

However, Erika is a fairly large storm with tropical force winds extending out 105 miles from center, which means it could significantly affect the weather of places a good distance from the center of the cyclone. 

Eastern Caribbean 

The tropical storm is already threatening air travel in the Eastern Caribbean. 

Erika is forecast to pass very close to Puerto Rico on Thursday and the eastern part of Dominican Republic on Friday. 

Seaborne Airlines issued a statement on Tuesday about its storm policy for all ticketed passengers flying to or from 12 airports in the region, including San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Tortola. It stated that anyone traveling to or from any of the potentially impacted areas between Wednesday and Friday could travel instead between Thursday, Aug. 27, and Thursday, Sept. 3. 

The National Hurricane Center in Miami’s official forecast track for Tropical Storm Erika as of Wednesday morning. – Image: NOAA

The National Hurricane Center in Miami’s official forecast track for Tropical Storm Erika as of Wednesday morning. – Image: NOAA
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