A disorganized Tropical Storm Erika churned in the Atlantic near the Leeward Islands, weakening in the early hours of Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.
Erika meandered overnight before starting to move generally westward at about 5 mph, forecasters said.
She is expected to gradually pick up speed over the next two days, while shifting its course to the north-northwest.
The storm, which formed Tuesday evening, briefly strengthened overnight before losing some of its steam.
“On the forecast track the center will pass near or over the northern Leeward Islands during the next day or so,” forecasters said.
Rainfall amounts were expected to total 2 to 4 inches, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches.
Tropical-storm force winds extended outward up to 120 miles from Erika’s center, mainly to the northeast. Tracking maps put the storm east of the Bahamas by Sunday.
Tropical storm watches were in place for the Caribbean islands of Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, according to the hurricane center. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions, including winds of at least 39 mph, are possible within 36 hours.
The U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and other sections of the Leeward Islands have been advised to monitor Erika’s progress.
September 3rd 2009 9am Update
Tropical Storm Erika, 16.5N,62.7W, 40mph, 1008mb, W 7mph
“Erika is still fighting this morning, and although it may end up being a losing battle, I have to give her some credit for hanging in there. They are still finding tropical storm force winds in the eastern of the storm in the deep convection where flight level winds of 50 kt are being reported, thus Erika remains a minimal tropical storm. The center of Erika remains in the western part of the convection slightly northwest of Guadeloupe in the Leeward Islands but does not look exposed this morning. In looking closely at the shear analysis, Erika remains in a relative minimum of wind shear when compared with the environment around it, but we are still seeing 10-20 kt of shear which is preventing Erika from getting organized to a great extent. Erika has shown an ability to survive in this shear environment, but the big question is does this shear increase in the coming days?”