Tropical Storm Erika

Tropical storm weakens, but leaves 20 dead in Caribbean

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said that mountains and an unfavourable environment would likely knock Erika below tropical storm force, though there's a small chance it could recover as it moves along Cuba and then approaches Florida late Sunday.

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in a televised address late Friday that damage inflicted by the storm set the island back 20 years. Some 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain fell on the mountainous island.

Dominican death toll rises as 'Erika' reaches Hispaniola

Authorities in Dominica had said at least four people were killed and about 20 were missing after Erika drenched the land and caused rivers to surge on the mountainous island.

But additional bodies have been recovered in the hard-hit southeast of the island, Police Chief Daniel Carbon said, declining to provide specifics. He predicted it would be another 24 hours at least before an official count would be released.

Florida keeps eye on Tropical Storm Erika, could hit Monday

Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said that as of 11 a.m. Friday, the forecast showed 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.

The next 24 hours will be critical in the storm's development, hurricane center meteorologist James Franklin said.

The latest: 4 killed in Dominica as Tropical Storm Erika hits island

The storm, which was forecast to reach Florida as a hurricane by Monday, dumped 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain on Dominica late Wednesday, followed by another 6 inches (15 centimeters) early Thursday, according to the weather service in the nearby island of Antigua.

Police Superintendent Daniel Carbon said three of the deaths occurred during a mudslide in the southeast of the island. Authorities recovered the bodies of an elderly blind man and two children from the home.

North Caribbean braces for rain, wind as Erika approaches

The storm was located about 245 miles (395 kilometers) east-southeast of Antigua and was moving west at 17 mph (28 kph). Maximum sustained winds increased Wednesday morning to near 45 mph (75 kph), but the storm was not forecast to gain strength over the next two days.

Erika was expected to move just north of Barbuda late Wednesday as it enters the Caribbean, said Philmore Mullin, director of Antigua and Barbuda's National Office of Disaster Services.