Friday, August 28, 2015

Town of Palm Beach TS Erika Update

Alert Level 3 (out of 5): MODERATE: Awareness & Action (Potential implementation of Disaster Preparedness Plans)

7:00 am EST, Friday, August 28th, 2015
Tropical Storm Erika continued west yesterday in defiance of most models. Began west/northwesterly path earlier this morning. Models now predicting significant interaction with island of Hispaniola before passing northwest on path to Florida. Models now backing off their projections of Erika becoming a hurricane before interaction with southeast U.S., but still show potential Tropical Storm affecting FL late Sunday/early Monday.

The next 48 hours are still critical to both the path and intensity of the storm. Erika may be severely degraded after passing Hispaniola tonight/tomorrow. It may survive the island and still have strength as it moves toward FL. NOAA reminds us that the average NHC track forecast errors over the past 5 years are 180 miles at day 4 and 240 miles at day 5, so the room for error is still large and bears close watching as we move forward and the prediction data becomes more clear.


Storm Name: Erika

Status: Tropical Storm

Location: (17.7 N, 67.7 W) Southwest of Puerto Rico

Maximum Sustained Winds ("MSW"): 45-50 mph

Movement: West/Northwest @ 17 mph

Pressure: 1006 MB 

Tropical Storm Erika: Potential Interaction with FL ("PIF"):

PIF1 - Next 1-2 Days: 0% 

PIF3 - Next 3-4 Days: 20% 

PIF5 - Next 5-7 Days: 50% (Potential Tropical Wave/Tropical Storm/Hurricane)

*Potential Interaction with FL ("PIF") estimates are designed to help the FMIT Alert reader determine the potential for the storm’s interaction with Florida based upon data available to FMIT at the time of the alert. "Interaction with Florida" means that a significant portion of the storm may impact Florida and does not indicate the intensity of the impact. This information is to be used for informational purposes only.


The story for this morning is more of the same with Erika as she continues to move outside most of the model predictions and kept moving west yesterday rather than turning to the northwest. This is very likely good news for Florida as the current models predict significant interaction with the island of Hispaniola before continuing on to the Bahamas and eventually Florida. It cannot be stated enough that, due to Erika's disorganized state, these models are obviously on the extreme low level of accuracy. The past 24 hours has proven that even the best models cannot accurately predict path with a disorganized system.

Here's a summary of today's information. Much of it is similar to yesterday's information, with a couple major caveats:

· Current intensity Models Project Tropical Storm will not become a Hurricane. While these models for path have not been very accurate, the models for intensity have been relatively consistent. This gives us hope as the latest models indicate that Erika will not have enough time or favorable conditions after crossing Hispaniola to develop into a Hurricane before any potential interaction with Florida.

· Erika is maintaining 40-50 mph sustained winds and is passing south of Puerto Rico. Erika is still surrounded by dry air and an area of medium-high wind shear (15-20 mph) that is keeping any significant intensification from occurring. The storm is "East-Loaded," meaning that the storm activity is located to the east of the center and do not wrap around the center, which indicates a very unhealthy storm at this time. 

· Erika following a more westerly path increases the chance that it will have more interaction with the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic/Haiti) as it moves northwest through the Caribbean. Erika is already struggling to exist due to dry air and relatively strong shearing winds (Thank you, El Nino!). If it has significant interaction with the high mountains of Hispaniola, it will be very difficult for it to survive as a Tropical Storm and may diminish into a Tropical Wave/Remnant. It would have to move significantly north in the next 12-24 hours to pass between Puerto Rico and Hispaniola and limit interaction with the mountains of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

· The next 24-48 hours are critical to Erika's existence and path. If Erika can hold together through its path over Hispaniola, it could still become a stronger storm. This is unlikely, but still possible. Alerts will come throughout the weekend as necessary to keep you informed.

Alert Rating: Due to the uncertainty of the path predictions, the movement of the storm to the west, and the current struggling of Erika to maintain Tropical Storm status, we are keeping our Alert Level to Level 3: MODERATE for all portions of Florida. Citizens should ensure that they are in contact with their Emergency/Disaster Response Teams and are aware of the storm's projected path and intensification predictions.