ERIKA getting stronger, St. Kitts & Nevis under storm watch

The latest US hurricane hunter aircraft that flew into the weather system has dispatched reports that ERIKA, which is the name given to the tropical storm, has been gaining in strength.

As of 11:00am Wednesday, maximum sustained winds were 45mph, moving west at 17 MPH and about 285 miles ESE of Antigua.

A tropical storm watch has therefore been issued for the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy and British Virgin Islands.

At the same time, a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for, Guadeloupe. 

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, generally within 36hours.

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

On the forecast track, tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the warning area in the Leeward Islandstonight, and reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area tonight and early Thursday.  Tropical storm conditions could reach portions of the Dominican Republic on Friday.

At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the center of Tropical Storm Erika was located near latitude 16.1 North, longitude 57.6 West.

St. Kitts and Nevis is located at 17 N, 62 W.

Erika is moving toward the west near 17 mph (28 km/h), and a west to west-northwestward motion is expected over the next 48 hours.

Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 km) primarily to the east of the center.

The latest minimum central pressure reported from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft was 1005 mb (29.68 inches).

Erika is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches with maximum amounts of 8 inches across portions of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico through Friday morning.

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