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Tropical Storm Erika could reach Florida as a hurricane next week

A hurricane hunter aircraft found that Erika is slightly stronger than initially forecasted.

Tropical Storm Erika has formed on the heels of what was briefly Hurricane Danny, headed for the Caribbean's Leeward Islands and possibly reaching the Florida coast as a hurricane early next week.

The storm had 45 mph maximum sustained winds and was 245 miles east-southeast of Antigua as of Wednesday afternoon. It is forecast to pass over the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday and the Bahamas on Saturday.

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Current models suggest Erika will strike Florida with hurricane force somewhere near Miami early Monday. However, there is relatively limited confidence in that forecast because it is still five days out.

In the meantime, tropical storm warnings are in effect across the Caribbean, including in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

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Danny had been tracking toward the islands last week before dissipating into a low-pressure system, bringing only heavy rain.

Erika is forecast to add another 3-5 inches of rainfall to the Leeward Islands, with local rainfall amounts of as much as 8 inches.

This is the most active time of year for tropical cyclones, with activity typically peaking in the second half of August and first half of September.

The storm is forecast to remain a tropical storm, with sustained winds no stronger than 73 mph, for at least the next few days.

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