Erika remained disorganized in the Caribbean on Friday morning. The tropical storm had max wind of 50 miles per hour and was still expected to cross the island of Hispaniola later Friday.
On Friday afternoon, Erika's center was moving due west. It would need a more northerly movement in order for Hispaniola's terrain to disrupt it.
Dry air, and wind shear should continue to work against Erika's intensification in the short-term. However, if the storm should survive its journey across Hispaniola and make it to the very warm waters near the Bahamas, it could increase in strength this weekend.
Again, it is very possible that if Erika treks across the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Friday, it may fall apart due to unfavorable conditions including high terrain.
By early next week, the official National Hurricane Center forecast takes Erika either into or very near Florida. A small change in the exact location of Erika's center next week could make a big difference in Erika's intensity. "The new intensity forecast is... low confidence," NHC admitted in their Friday morning discussion.
If Erika does make landfall in Florida next Monday, then the storm would likely decrease in strength since tropical systems typically don't intensify over land, but instead water. But, if the storm's center fails to move over the land of Florida, and instead meanders along the west or east coast of the Florida peninsula, further intensification would be possible.
Tropical Storm Erika is already being blamed for deaths and missing people in the Leeward Islands due to flooding and mudslides. Areas in Hispaniola will have to deal heavy rain from Erika, with three to six inches of rain in their forecast which could cause life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.
The governor of Florida has declared a state of emergency. Local NWS offices in south Florida are forecasting tropical storm conditions to impact their area Sunday through Tuesday with the main concern being the potential for flooding rainfall.
No local impacts along the Mississippi Gulf Coast are expected from Erika. But, locations in Florida should monitor Erika closely over the next 24 hours. Overall, considerable uncertainty remains in Erika's long-range forecast. But, the storm's fate should become clearer if it clears the Caribbean Islands.