|Powerful Hurricane Erika At Maximum Intensity in the Atlantic
A tropical wave
moved off the coast of Africa into the
eastern Atlantic Ocean on August 31. The system did not organize significantly until September 3 when it was organized
enough to become Tropical Depression Six while located about 1000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. The depression progressed
west-northwestward and became Tropical Storm Erika just later on the 3rd. Strengthening continued in the favorable
waters, and Erika became a hurricane on September 4. Further strengthening was slower than it had previously been, due to
an increased amount of wind shear, but the storm was still able to remain a minimal hurricane.
The center of the storm passed within 75 miles northeast of the northern Lesser Antilles on September 7, and
the storm slowed in motion. Fortunately, the 75 miles in distance was enough to keep the hurricane force conditions offshore.
Erika turned to the north later on the 8th, and then began to strengthen quickly. By the evening of September 8,
Erika was a powerful Category 3 storm at its peak intensity with winds of 125 mph and a pressure of 948 mbar, which would
later fall to 946 mbar. The storm had a very strong eyewall and a clear 30-mile wide eye at this time. As the storm accelerated
to the NNE, it was able to maintain winds of 125 mph, before the weakening trend began late on September 9. Erika had weakened
to a Category 1 storm by the time it began to make its turn to the ENE, taking the storm into even colder waters. After weakening
to a tropical storm on September 12, Erika moved in a general eastward direction, maintaining tropical storm strength with
winds from 50-70 mph until September 16. At this time, the colder waters had transformed Erika into an extratropical storm.
The remnant continued northeast until dissipating about 200 miles south of Ireland.
The effects from Erika were limited to swells and rip currents in Puerto Rico, which killed two surfers. The National Hurricane Center reports that the mood was in a relief mode, thankful that the large storm had spared the area.