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Tropical Storm Erika Moves Closer To Florida


For the first time in a couple of years the state of Florida is gearing up for a tropical storm.  Saying the state should hope for the best and prepare for the worst, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency across every county of the state today as Tropical Storm Erika continues its slow trek across the ocean towards Florida. 

And while the exact track and strength of the storm has been difficult to determine over the past few days, it now looks like Erika will remain a tropical storm by the time it gets to south Florida.  Dr Chris Landsea is a Meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center. ""What we're looking at the last couple days was a track a bit farther east, and sometimes it's just a matter of a few hundred miles difference between an area where it can foster a hurricane to intensify versus one that is very hostile and makes it fall apart. It's looking like that is more the scenario now, that it's not going to have an opportunity to become a hurricane."

That’s not to say Erika should be treated lightly. At least 12 people have been killed and a couple of dozen missing on the island of Dominica and about 80 percent of the island is without power. Reports say over 12 inches of rain feel on the island in a 12 hour period. The storm is now heading through Hispaniola. Meteorologist Jeff Huffman says the terrain on that island may further affect Erika’s development. "It all depends on what kind of system we have when it emerges from north of Cuba tomorrow morning."

And even if the system completely falls apart, there is still the possibility of heavy rains in the southern part of the state. Dr. Chris Landsea says "The atmosphere looks to be very hostile, that is the wind shear is going to continue, so if the center does fall apart completely, it may not come back again. If that occurs, we would still see some enhanced rainfall in at least South Florida, perhaps the whole peninsula."

But for now, state officials are preparing for the first tropical storm to hit the state since Andrea in June of 2013. 

Check out the latest from the FPREN Storm Center and download the new 'Florida Storms' app now available in the IPhone App Store.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.