CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As of early Saturday morning, Erika is just barely hanging on to Tropical Storm status after crossing over Hispaniola overnight and weakening. The maximum winds are 40mph, just over the 39mph criteria of a Tropical Storm.
Erika will be crossing over Cuba today, which is expected to weaken it further back down to a Tropical Depression, or possibly even dissipate the storm. While the winds are not strong, the rain could still be a threat to Cuba, as heavy rain could possibly lead to flash flooding or mudslides.
Once the storm reemerges back into the Gulf tomorrow afternoon, conditions will be much more favorable for the survival of the storm. So, if it can make it to that point, there is a chance it could re-strengthen back into a weak Tropical Storm, which is what the National Hurricane Center is forecasting with their latest update.
As far as the track, it has continued to shift to the left. The latest track keeps the storm off the Western Coast of mainland Florida, not making landfall until it reaches the Florida Panhandle mid-late week. Again, while current estimates have Erika as a weak Tropical Storm (winds 40-45mph) upon landfall, it's important to remember that flooding could still pose a threat even if the winds with the storm aren't particularly strong.
At this time, it still appears that Erika is not a threat to the Carolinas, and if anything, will just bring some beneficial moisture back to the region by the mid-later part of next week.
We'll continue to keep an eye on this storm, and don't forget you can download the WBTV Hurricane Tracker app to keep watch on the storm yourself!