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Tropical Storm Erika's latest shift lessens Florida risk

Tropical Storm Erika's latest shift lessens Florida risk

Tropical Storm Erika's forecast path has shifted to the west, meaning that the storm is unlikely to hit Florida as a hurricane, catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide said in an analysis released Friday.

Erika, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, caused considerable damage in Dominica, where villages have been inundated with water, and the heavy precipitation has resulted in numerous landslides and mudflows, which have undermined buildings, damaged vehicles, and washed out roads and at least one bridge, said Boston-based AIR.

At least 12 people are reported dead on the island, according to Reuters.

“The system is now expected to pass over Hispaniola, whose high mountains tend to weaken or destroy passing storms,” said AIR in its analysis. “There is a distinct chance that the storm will not survive its passage. If it does survive, it will still be in a strong wind-shear environment, limiting its intensification potential.”

AIR cautioned, however, that beyond Saturday, the forecast is “highly uncertain.” If the storm survives the next few days, “it is unclear which track the system will follow, as it is highly dependent of its intensity when exiting this hostile environment.”

AIR said that a stronger Erika could follow a path more to the east, which could result in track along the east coast of Florida, and a possible move toward the Carolinas, while a weaker Erika could mean a possible direct impact to Florida.

“The forecast models have shown a large spread beyond 48 hours,” the modeler said.

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