Tropical Storm Emily is closing in on the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola and she's gaining strength. As of the 11pm advisory Emily had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and a pressure of 1005 mb. After maintaining a westerly track so far, she finally started her move to the west-northwest today. After ingesting some dry air early in the day Emily has flushed it out of her system and has begun to look much healthier. Although there is still no sign of an eye developing.
It now looks like the center of Emily will stay to the south of Puerto Rico, but they should still receive some of the outer thunderstorms. A look at the radar from Puerto Rico does show some rain bands there. But the heavy rain is still well south of the island.
Emily does have some time to continue strengthening. At her current pace of 14 mph, she has a little less than 20 hours before she is forecast to reach the island of Hispaniola. The official track from the Hurricane Center has Emily moving right over the western part the Dominican Republic. That is right were Hispaniola's highest mountain range is located. If she does take this path, Emily will move over the islands highest peak, Pico Duarte at 10,194 feet.
There is still a lot of uncertainty about what might happen to Emily after her encounter with Hispaniola. The forecast models that track her over the island, predict that she will survive and then begin a path through the Bahamas. The HWRF then takes Emily right up to Port Canaveral on Saturday and then out towards Cape Hatteras as a Cat 1 hurricane. Even though they all show an eventual curve out to sea, the southeastern US coastline should pay close attention to the NHC advisories every 3 hours.
If anything, Emily might turn Ponce Inlet and Cocoa Beach into surfers paradise for a couple days. There may actually be some epic surf conditions with large wave heights and long periods. Saturday might be the best day, as this model shows greater than 12ft wave heights offshore.