55 NC counties are under alert, including Wake, Cumberland, Durham, Johnston, and Orange counties. Details
Published: 2015-08-28 06:47:00
Updated: 2015-08-28 12:41:38
Posted August 28, 2015 6:47 a.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2015 12:41 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The National Hurricane Center said Friday morning that Tropical Storm Erika's forecast track has shifted westward as the weak storm struggles to stay together in the Caribbean.
At noon on Friday, the storm was about 1,400 miles south-southeast of Raleigh moving west-northwest at about 17 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of about 50 mph.
"The hurricane center was having a tough time finding the center of circulation this morning, which likely means the storm is weakening," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "However, they did find some very strong winds around Puerto Rico. They did bump up the intensity in terms of wind strength, but the longterm outlook for Erika continuing to strengthen doesn't look good."
The storm is likely to drift over the Dominican Republic and Haiti in the coming hours, and the mountainous terrain will keep it from gathering intensity.
Once it moves back into open water, it is forecast to move past Cuba's north coast and then slide northward toward the southern tip of Florida.
"This area is not very favorable for strengthening, so instead of becoming a hurricane it remains a tropical storm," Gardner said. "By the middle of next week, it could move into Florida and bring rain to the bulk of the state."