On Friday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center shifted Tropical Storm Erika's forecast track slightly westward.
Over the course of Friday, Erika has continued to move west instead of taking a more northwesterly turn as previous forecasts were calling for. In general, Erika has not been following model guidance over the last 24 hours.
"Erika was moving westward pretty quickly just south of the Dominican Republic on Friday afternoon. We have not seen much strengthening with this system over the last 24 hours. Some interaction with the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola, as well as wind shear and dry air, has kept Erika from strengthening," said Chief Meteorologist Carrie Duncan.
The official NHC forecast calls for Erika to impact portions of south Florida as early as late Sunday. Erika is forecast to continue northward into southern Georgia by the middle of next week.
NHC says that Erika could weaken to tropical depression strength once it moves inland over Florida next week. It would bring the main threat of flooding rain, not so much strong wind.
"Although this would normally be an appropriate time for a tropical storm watch for portions of southern Florida, following typical timelines, we have elected to wait until we see what's left of Erika after it passes Hispaniola," the NHC stated in their Friday afternoon update. "There is a significant chance that no watches or warnings for Florida will be required."
It still appears that Erika is a wait-and-see storm. Will it weaken to tropical depression strength once it crosses Hispaniola? Time will tell.
As far as impacts to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, none are expected at this time. For what it's worth, there is quite a bit of dry air and wind shear (left over from the cold front that passed through our region earlier this week) across the central Gulf of Mexico that should provide for a very tropical-storm-unfriendly environment.
Basically, even if Erika (or whatever would be left of Erika) were to try to come anywhere west of the Florida panhandle, it would likely be destroyed due to those unfavorable conditions.