Tropical Storm Emily's current forecast has her sweeping east of South Florida, meteorologists said Tuesday, but it's still too early to be certain as a gradual turn to the northwest is expected during the next 24 to 48 hours.
Outer rainbands of the storm moved across Puerto Rico Tuesday night as Emily continued heading west at nearly 14 miles per hour, aiming for a Wednesday arrival on Hispañola.
"It has strengthened a little over the course of the day, but not significantly," said Dave Zelinsky, a hurricane support meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, on Tuesday night.
"Over the next 24 hours or so we expect it to approach Hispañola, but we expect it to remain a tropical strorm until landfall. It's a rather mountainous area, and at this point we expect it to weaken and then restrengthen as it approaches the Bahamas."
The biggest concern for South Florida as of Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center, is wind, rain and storm surge. The current forecast predicts the storm to be in the general vicinity of South Florida either late Friday or early Saturday.
"Right now the center track has it staying east of South Florida," said Zelinsky. "However, there's a high degree of uncertainly beyond three days. It has strengthened slightly, and it has the ability to strengthen further."
A tropical storm warning was added for the Bahamas late Tuesday night, joining those already in effect for Haiti, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, and the Dominican Republic.
A tropical storm watch was also in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands as the storm cruised about 125 miles south of Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Maximum sustained winds increased to 50 mph and slight strengthening may continue before the center of the storm moves over the high terrain of Hispanola, expected late Wednesday.
Rain was expected to be between 4 to 6 inches in Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches possible, according to the National Hurricane Center.