Tropical Storm Emily has degenerated into a low pressure system and has lost steam while moving over Haiti, but it's still too early to say whether South Florida is safe, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.
At 5 p.m., the storm was about 100 miles south southwest of the eastern tip of Cuba. The maximum sustained winds were at 35 mph and it was moving at 16 mph.
The current forecast track has Emily missing South Florida to the east and likely only making the surf a bit unruly at the beach, NHC Director Bill Reed said.
But any slight move could bring Emily and heavy rains closer to Miami, he said.
"It's too early to say if we are completely out of the woods in southeast Florida," Reed said.
Emily could arrive off the east coast of South Florida early Saturday, said Diana Goeller, a hurricane center spokeswoman.
Goeller said Emily is not expected to be a hurricane when it reaches the area of South Florida, but there is a lot of rain associated with this storm, so people should prepare.
“It’s definitely time to start those preparations. Keep a close eye on everything,” she said.
Forecaster Robert Molleda said it would take a direct hit from Emily to bring enough rain to make a dent int he significant drought South Florida has suffered this summer.
Forecasters will have a better gauge on how much rain may be fall in the area when Emily is less than 24 hours away, Reed said.
Experts at the hurricane center are expecting the storm to turn north going to Haiti. It’s strength is uncertain after it goes over Haiti later Thursday or early Friday, Goeller said.
“By tonight, early tomorrow morning we will have a much better idea of what it’s going to do afterwards,” Goeller said.
As of 5 p.m., all tropical storm watches and warnings for the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas have been discontinued.
The hurricane center said that although the storm has weakened it can still produce rainfall of up to 6 to 12 inches with isolated amounts of 20 inches possible over the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Also, total 2 to 4 inches of rain are expected in eastern Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.