Tropical Storm Erika May Fall Apart Over Hispaniola; Dominica Deaths At 20

Tropical Storm Erika roils the surf off the Dominican Republic late Friday morning. (AP)
Tropical Storm Erika roils the surf off the Dominican Republic late Friday morning. (AP)

Tropical Storm Erika is drenching the Dominican Republic and Haiti, but the latest National Hurricane Center forecasts suggest that moving over the rugged island may leave the storm too disorganized to reform and threaten Florida.

"Erika is fighting both land and a hostile wind shear environment, and it will be very difficult for the cyclone to recover. Consequently, weakening in the short term is indicated in the NHC forecast, and there is a strong likelihood that Erika will degenerate to a tropical wave during its interaction with land. However, if it survives, there is a very small opportunity for Erika to regain tropical storm strength in the Florida Straits and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, where the environment is less hostile."

It's a big shift from recent days, the forecast notes, when most of the forecasting tools anticipated Erika strengthening into a hurricane over the weekend.

Rivers remained swollen and choked with debris in Roseau, Dominica, on Friday after Tropical Storm Erika had passed
Rivers remained swollen and choked with debris in Roseau, Dominica, on Friday after Tropical Storm Erika had passed

The storm could still could pose a significant flooding threat to the Gulf Coast of Florida. On Thursday Erika dropped a foot of rain on the island of Dominica, triggering flooding and landslides, and late Friday the island's Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, announced the death toll had climbed to 20.

In the Pacific Ocean, the threat to Hawaii from Hurricane Ignacio appeared to be receding somewhat, as recent forecasts anticipated somewhat less strengthening and a track that should take the storm north of the islands. Still, storm surge could be as high as 10-14 feet late Sunday, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

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