We are about to enter the peak of the Hurricane Season, and by early next week we could potentially see the first Hurricane so far this year. However, there is still much uncertainty in the track of Tropical Storm Emily.
In the short term, Emily will be impacting Hispaniola later today and into Thursday. The immediate impacts of Emily will be to bring torrential rains to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with a widespread 4-6 inches of rain expected, and localized amounts up to 1 foot. Given Haiti's current state following the massive earthquake of January 2010, the potential flooding and mudslides will lead to even more destruction and heartache for residents there. Much of the land is deforested and hundreds of thousands of people have nothing but a tent over their heads.
The interaction with the mountainous terrain of Hispaniola will weaken Emily significantly. There is a small chance that the storm will be torn apart so much that re strengthening will not occur, but at this time, that is not the current thinking. The official forecast track re strengthens Emily once she reemerges into the open waters, where conditions at this time are favorable for intensification. Emily will then continue on a Northwesterly path, parallel to the coastline of Florida, and then hook Northeast so as to stay parallel to the east coast. The center of circulation at this time is expected to remain a few hundred miles offshore. The current intensification forecast has Emily becoming a Category 1 Hurricane off the coast of North Carolina by early Monday morning.
If this forecast holds true, Emily would not make landfall, and the coastal communities would only be affected by the very most outer rain bands of the Hurricane. However, it is important to remember that the forecast "cone" does convey a level of uncertainty, meaning that a shift in direction, both towards and away from the coastline, could still easily occur.
You can visit the National Hurricane Center's website for all of the latest updates on Emily here: http://1.usa.gov/5vld0