Aug 26: East Coast Impact from Erika Gaining Confidence
Erika has slightly intensified overnight and this morning. The big question is “How will this impact the US east coast?” Well, the Bahamas and Florida, as stated yesterday, should begin taking Erika seriously. We’re still a ways out and model guidance is notorious for trending between the transition of long-range to mid/short-range model guidance but as of right now, the National Hurricane Center is suggesting a Miami landfall between Sunday night and Monday.
While this makes sense at this time and is likely the best scientific-based projection right now, changes to this forecast are almost guaranteed as mother nature practices and executes chaos at all times. I do think however that we’ll have a much more confident handle on Erika’s track after observing land interaction with the northern Caribbean islands. The higher elevations of Hispaniola are known to shred apart tropical cyclone energy and there’s still some shear that Erika will encounter before moving into a favorable Bermuda Triangle region for development. Once we’re at that point, upper-level steering dynamics include influence from the Bermuda high as well as a deep digging trough moving across the US. Think of an asteroid passing between the gravitational field of two planets. The slightest deviation could mean tremendous difference in final track and impact. We’re simply too far away to call Erika’s behavior beyond an intensifying tropical storm in the Bahamas.
Right now, Erika is only producing 45mph sustained max winds and a minimum low pressure of 1005mb. There are healthy signs of convection and better circulation displayed since yesterday when Erika sightly weakened. The idea here is that the stronger Erika becomes, the more she will curve out to sea when nearing the SE US coast. The weaker Erika becomes, the more she will stay southward and possibly only threaten southern Florida. Here’s the latest tropical spaghetti plot of all current models plotted on a single map, used with permission from WeatherBell Analytics:
From this point on I expect a slow and gradual intensification with a track slightly north of the northern Caribbean islands. Once into the Bermuda Triangle, Erika will intensify more aggressively, likely into hurricane status, and threaten everyone from Florida to OBX. I give it a 60% chance of re-curve out to sea SE of OBX, a 10% chance of a weaker storm (remnants) into the Gulf, and a 30% chance of riding up the east coast bringing impacts north of OBX. New Jersey should at least expect some heavy surf and dangerous rip tides next week. Hopefully that’s it but I’m not confident enough to take higher New Jersey impacts off the table just yet. For now, tropical storm impact in the northern Caribbean and Bahamas is all but certain. Florida impact is becoming likely in the Aug 31-Sept 3 time period. I’ll be watching. Be safe! JC