Tropical Storm Emily is projected to approach South Florida either late Friday or early Saturday.

Tropical Storm Emily is projected to approach South Florida either late Friday or early Saturday. (National Hurricane Center)

Tropical Storm Emily is no longer projected to be a hurricane when it approaches South Florida, either late on Friday or early on Saturday. Rather, it would remain a strong storm with sustained winds of 60 mph.

Further, under the latest forecast, its core would remain offshore as it slides north, paralleling the state's east coast.

Just the same, where Emily actually will go and how strong it get remains in question. For now, almost the entire state of Florida is in the cone of error.

At 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Emily, the fifth named storm of the season, was 265 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, moving west at 14 mph with sustained winds of about 40 mph, or barely tropical storm strength.

Over the next three days, Emily is predicted to move south of Puerto Rico, diagonal across Hispaniola and arrive near the Bahamas. By Friday, it would draw close enough to South Florida that the region could be pelted by gusty winds and heavy rains.

However, if the forecast holds, it would remain in the Atlantic and aim generally toward the Carolinas.

All of that could easily change, the National Hurricane Center said.

One reason the forecast is so tricky is because the system remains relatively unorganized without a clear center of circulation, said senior hurricane specialist Richard Pasch.

"Needless to say, there is considerable uncertainty as to where Emily will be and how strong it will be in three to five days," he wrote in the Tuesday morning advisory.