Tropical storm warnings: Tropical Storm Erika

Published: August 26, 2015

Tropical storm warnings: Tropical Storm Erika, South Florida is officially on notice as Tropical Storm Erika continues churning in the Atlantic Ocean.

Wednesday morning’s forecast from the National Hurricane Center in Miami keeps South Florida within the cone of uncertainty, which now encompasses a larger chunk of the state.

The National Hurricane Center said Erika was traveling west at 17 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. It was located 285 miles east-southeast of Antigua as of 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Erika formed in the mid-Atlantic late Monday night and is forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane.

Local 10 News hurricane specialist Max Mayfield said the National Hurricane Center has been consistent in its forecast track.

“That cone is there for a very good reason,” Mayfield said.

He said the cone is an average span of 250 miles.

“Could it be on the south side of the cone? Absolutely. Could it be on the north side of the cone? Absolutely,” Mayfield said. “That’s the uncertainty we’re dealing with.”

Mayfield said the real uncertainty is with the intensity of the storm. He said some models show Erika as a weak system, while others show a significant hurricane.

Erika’s forecast track has the storm moving west-northwest toward the Leeward Islands by Wednesday and then on to Puerto Rico. It is expected to become a Category 1 hurricane by the weekend as it moves near the Bahamas.

From there, Erika could move on to South Florida.

Mayfield said Erika could maintain tropical storm status for three or four days.

“The models that actually strengthen this really don’t do so until it gets near the Bahamas and South Florida,” Mayfield said.

Mayfield cautioned people not to let their guards down just because it remains a tropical storm.

Tampa, Orlando and southwest Florida are also within the cone.

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