MIDWAY, Fla. (WTXL) -- Erika maintained its low-end status as a tropical storm Tuesday, fighting against nearby dry air in the region.
Late Tuesday night, Erika was located less than 500 miles east of Antigua, moving west at 18 mph, with peak sustained winds of 40 mph.
The forecast track for Erika maintains a west or west-northwest path through the southern latitudes of the North Atlantic over the next couple of days, approaching the Windward Islands later this week. While dry air will limit its intensification in the next 48 to 72 hours, gradual strengthening is expected once Erika reaches areas near the far southwestern Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center forecast.
Erika may reach hurricane strength by Sunday in a region with warm water temperatures and lighter upper-level winds.
Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance aircraft had investigated the system Tuesday, finding considerable wind shear nearby and dry air entraining into its circulation. This collection of data will aid in fine-tuning future forecast guidance model information and official forecast information. For the time being, the extended forecast beyond the weekend carries a considerable amount of uncertainty, with significant changes in the future forecast track possible.