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Tropical Storm Erika expected near BVI on Thursday

LOCATION…16.1N 57.6W

ABOUT 285 MI…460 KM ESE OF ANTIGUA

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…45 MPH…75 KM/H

PRESENT MOVEMENT…W OR 280 DEGREES AT 17 MPH…28 KM/H

MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…1005 MB…29.68 INCHES

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A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for the British Virgin Islands as Tropical Storm Erika continues to head west.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that sustained winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour (mph) are expected somewhere within the specified area within 36 hours in association with a tropical cyclone.

At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Erika was located near latitude 16.1 North, longitude 57.6 West. Erika is moving toward the west near 17 mph (28 km/h), and a west to west-northwestward motion is expected over the next 48 hours.

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On the forecast track, the center of Erika will move near or over portions of the Leeward Islands tonight and move near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday, and be near or just north of north coast of the Dominican Republic on Friday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph (75 km/h) with higher gusts. Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours. Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 km) primarily to the east of the center.

The latest minimum central pressure reported from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft was 1005 mb (29.68 inches).

According to NOAA forecaster Brown “The NHC intensity forecast calls for little change in strength through 72 hours, which is in line with the latest statistical guidance. After that time, strengthening is indicated due to the expected more favorable upper-level environment.

An alternative forecast scenario, supported by the GFS model, is that Erika weakens to a tropical wave due to the shear and interaction with the Greater Antilles.”

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Expected Impacts on Land in the Virgin Islands

Wind
Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the warning area in the Leeward Islands tonight and reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday. Sustained winds to 40-45 mph with gusts to 50 mph are possible late Thursday in the heaviest thunderstorms. Scattered power outages are possible. Tropical storm conditions could reach portions of the Dominican Republic on Friday.

Rainfall
Erika is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches with maximum amounts of 8 inches across portions of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico through Friday morning. Some minor flooding is likely.

BVI DDM Update

The initial rain bands could begin affecting the BVI as early as Thursday morning with more intense effects occurring when the eye of the system passes over or near to the BVI.  There continues to be a lot of uncertainty regarding Erika’s development but the BVI is expected to experience tropical storm force conditions throughout the passage of this system which will include maximum sustained winds of 35 to 40 mph with gusts of 55 mph. The system has shown signs of slight strengthening and these numbers are subject to change.

Sea conditions will begin to deteriorate tonight. Rough seas in excess of 11 feet are expected and the Antigua/Barbuda Meteorological Service has already issued marine warnings for mariners, small craft operators and sea-bathers. Securing of vessels should be done today as the sea conditions may not permit for such actions on Thursday morning.

The BVI Ports Authority has confirmed normal business operations today. Individual ferry operators have provided updates on their service schedules and this will be communicated via a separate advisory. U.S. Virgin Islands Ports Authority confirmed that the ports are currently open but a decision on possible closures will be made later today.

WATCHES AND WARNINGS

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Anguilla
* Saba and St. Eustatius
* St. Maarten
* St. Martin
* St. Barthelemy
* Montserrat
* Antigua and Barbuda
* St. Kitts and Nevis
* Puerto Rico
* Vieques
* Culebra
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* British Virgin Islands

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…
* Guadeloupe

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Interests in the Dominican Republic should monitor the progress of Erika. A Tropical Storm Watch may be required for a portion of the Dominican Republic later today.