Tropical Storm Erika strengthened late Tuesday after forming hours earlier in the Atlantic, the National Hurricane Center said.
As of 11 p.m. ET, Erika was centered about 365 miles (585 km) east of the northern Leeward Islands, the hurricane center said. Its maximum sustained winds were near 60 mph (95 km/hr), with higher gusts. While Erika meandered Tuesday evening, it was expected to start moving west-northwest at about 9 mph overnight. “Some strengthening is possible during the next 24 hours,” forecasters said. “Erika has been meandering for the past few hours, but it should begin to move toward the west-northwest near 8 mph (13 km/hr) on Wednesday.” Tropical-storm force winds extended outward up to 120 miles (195 km) from Erika’s center.
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The storm was moving west-northwest at near 8 mph (13 km/hr), and was expected to continue doing so for the next couple of days, the hurricane center said. Tracking maps put the storm east of the Bahamas by Sunday. On the forecast track, Erika should remain northeast of the Leeward Islands.
Tropical storm watches were in place for the Caribbean islands of St. Maarten, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, according to the hurricane center. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions, including winds of at least 39 mph, are possible within 36 hours. The northern Leeward Islands, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have been advised to monitor Erika’s progress.