The Latest: Tropical Storm Erica expected to be downgraded

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The latest on storm preparations for Erika (all times local):

5:25 p.m.:

The National Hurricane Center said during its 5 p.m. forecast that Tropical Storm Erika is forecast to weaken into a tropical depression.

During the Friday night announcement, meteorologists said they expect Erika to be downgraded to a depression Saturday. There's even a possibility that the storm could dissipate to a trough of low pressure during or after its passage over Hispaniola.

Officials say there's "a significant chance" that no watches or warnings for Florida will be required over the weekend.


3:20 p.m.

Emergency planners on the Georgia coast are taking precautions in case Tropical Storm Erika poses a threat next week.

Dan Stowers, emergency management director for Savannah, said Friday that city employees were pulling storm shutters out of storage and making sure generators and emergency vehicles were topped off with fuel. Surrounding Chatham County scheduled its emergency planning staff to keep watch on the storm through the weekend from the agency's command center.

Though forecasts Friday predicted that Erika would fall short of strengthening into a hurricane as it approached Florida on Monday, the National Weather Service said it has "low confidence" in its intensity predictions.

"We don't want anybody to relax," Stowers said.

Georgia's 100-mile coastline hasn't suffered a direct hit from a major hurricane since 1898.


3:10 p.m.

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division says it has partially activated its emergency center as officials watch Tropical Storm Erika.

Division director Kim Stenson says in a statement that he hopes the storm avoids South Carolina. But he says residents should review their preparation plans, especially along the South Carolina coast.

Forecasters say there is still much uncertainty with the storm's forecast. Current projections have Erika making landfall on the southwest coast of Florida and moving inland toward South Carolina.

Emergency officials have told key agencies in South Carolina to be ready to respond if needed.


11:25 a.m.

All of Florida is watching Tropical Storm Erika as the disorganized system makes its way over Hispaniola.

Dennis Feltgen of the National Hurricane Center in Miami said as of 11 a.m. Friday, the forecast shows the storm hitting the state Monday. The forecast path has Erika skirting the state's Gulf Coast and then moving up Florida's spine north of Tampa.

Feltgen says the entire state of Florida, along with parts of Georgia and South Carolina, could see heavy rain in the coming days.

There's still uncertainty in the track because Hispaniola's mountains could disrupt or break up the storm. Feltgen says it is too early to tell whether the storm will bring flooding to areas of the Tampa Bay region that experienced problems in recent weeks because of heavy rain.


9:27 a.m.

Gov. Rick Scott is declaring a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Erika nears Florida.

The storm could hit the peninsula Monday. Scott made his declaration shortly after forecasters adjusted the trajectory of the storm to show that it's predicted to go through the middle of the state.

Scott's emergency order says Erika "poses a severe threat to the entire state."

The order calls for the activation of the National Guard and gives authorities the ability to waive tolls and rules to allow emergency crews and vehicles to move throughout the state.

A hurricane hasn't hit Florida in 10 years. The latest forecasts show that Erika will remain a tropical storm when it makes landfall.

On Friday, Erika lashed Puerto Rico with wind and rain and had killed at least four people. The storm was about 90 miles east-southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republican, and was moving west at 17 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

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