Tropical Storm Emily Update

Tropical Storm Emily had a bit of a hiccup overnight stalling the storm’s expected pass over the mountainous island of Hispaniola - a pass that meteorologists were waiting upon before plotting the storm’s future path and strength.

At 5 a.m., the National Hurricane Center reports Emilyl is about 25 miles south-southwest of the Dominican Republic’s Isla Beata and moving at 7 mph and packing maximum susained winds of 50 mph.

Forecasters are expecting an increase in forward speed and a turn toward the west-northwest - and South Florida - as the storm moves across the southwestern peninsula of Haiti early Thursday and then eastern Cuba Thursday night.

Up to 20 inches of rain were expected in the Dominican Republic and Haiti before the storm passes by them, the hurricane center said.

Projections still have the storm being off the coast of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast sometime Saturday - possibly as late as Saturday night - but its path remains in flux.

“Large uncertainties” remain, warned state meteorologist Amy Godsey Wednesday.

“Even if Emily moves east of Florida, ocean swells resulting in rip currents and large waves that may cause minor beach erosion is possible,” Godsey said.

Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, southeastern and central Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos are all under a tropical storm warning. The northwestern Bahamas are under a tropical storm watch.

The 9,000-10,000 foot peaks of Hispaniola, which have killed many a tropical storm, remain the major x-factor in determining what effect Emily will have on Florida.

The storm’s forecast continues to be uncertain after it crosses Hispaniola. But the latest radar maps show it is possible that by Monday morning, Emily could be known as Hurricane Emily when it is closer to the Carolinas.

Even if Hispaniola’s mountains weaken the storm, it will enter conditions favorable for strengthening - namely warm waters and upper level winds - after passes by the island, hurricane support meteorologist Diana Goeller said.

But as it has been for the past few days, nothing is definite.

By: Mary Smith
Published: Aug 4, 2011
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