FIRST ALERT WEATHER: Erika expected to move through Leeward Islands Wednesday night

VIDEO: Tropical storm warnings in effect ahead of Erika

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Additional tropical storm watches have been issued as Tropical Storm Erika continues its move toward the Leeward Islands.

The government of the Dominican Republic has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Cabo Frances Viejo. The government of the Bahamas has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Earlier on Wednesday, the French government has upgraded tropical storm watches to tropical storm warnings for St. Martin and St. Barthelemy as Tropical Storm Erika continues its move to the west.

Additional tropical storm warnings are in effect for Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Montserrat, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, Vieques, Culebra, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. A tropical storm watch remains in effect for Guadeloupe.

Erika is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches with maximum amounts of 8 inches across portions of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico through Friday morning.

Erika expected to pass through Leeward Islands Wednesday night

At 4 p.m. Wednesday, the center of the system was located 16.6N 58.9W, about 195 miles east of Antigua. The system has maximum sustained winds of about 45 mph. Erika is moving toward the west near 17 mph, and a west to west-northwestward motion is expected over the next 48 hours. Little change in strength is expected during that time.

On the forecast track, the center of Erika will move near or over portions of the Leeward Islands tonight, move near the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday, and be near or just north of the north coast of the Dominican Republic on Friday.

"It is still too early to tell about possible impacts, if any, for us here in the Lowcountry," Live 5 News Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh said. He said there is a lot of uncertainty with a storm track that could take the storm into the southeast coast of Florida or possibly Georgia by Monday afternoon.

A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, generally within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Tropical storm conditions are expected to first reach the warning area in the Leeward Islands tonight, and reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Thursday. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area tonight and early Thursday.  Tropical storm conditions could reach portions of the Dominican Republic on Friday.

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