UPDATE (9 A.M.) -- The National Hurricane Center states that "Erika has dissipated as a tropical cyclone." Its remnant circulation will still likely cause heavy rain and mudslide threats in portions of Cuba. Areas of rain may still impact the eastern Gulf region, including Florida, early next week.
UPDATE (8 A.M.) -- The center of Erika is positioned just north of the eastern side of the island country of Cuba, moving west-northwest at 20 mph. Notable deterioration of the structure of the storm has been seen and observed. Hurricane hunter aircraft are in the system this morning taking additional observations and data.
MIDWAY, Fla. (WTXL) -- The still-ragged Tropical Storm Erika produced heavy rain over Hispaniola early Saturday while battling the weakening effects of land, wind shear, and nearby dry air.
The ill-defined center of Erika was roughly 125 miles south of Guantánamo, Cuba, with highest winds of 40 mph. A west-northwest movement was detected, at a rate of 20 mph.
This current course would take the unorganized system along and over parts of Cuba in the next 24 hours, likely causing further weakening into a tropical depression. Chances exist for the system to become a remnant low-pressure system during this process.
However, beyond its forecast movement over Cuba, the leftovers would likely relocate over the much-warmer Florida Straits and southeastern Gulf of Mexico. Water temperatures are in the mid 80s, and upper-level winds are lighter. These factors may lead to some reorganization off the southwest Florida coast as the system curves around and moves northwesterly, basically parallel to the Florida Suncoast.
This path would bring Erika, in whatever shape or form, closer to the Big Bend region, potentially carrying heavy rain, modest wind gusts, and the chance for some increase in coastal water levels, depending on the eventual path it takes.
No tropical watches or warnings are in effect for any parts of Florida as of mid-morning Saturday.
Additional reconnaissance missions are expected Saturday to better detect Erika's central circulation and survey atmospheric conditions, which will aid in improving future forecast tracks and strength outlooks.