Elsa has strengthened into a hurricane, according to a special advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
Sustained winds are now near 75 mph, making the storm a Category 1 hurricane, according to a 7:45 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
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Wind speeds are forecast to stay around 75 mph through Saturday afternoon. A Category 1 storm has winds of 74 to 95 mph. Winds of that speed could produce some damage to homes and trees and could cause some power outages.
Elsa has maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, according to an advisory issued at 8:30 a.m. from the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is forecast to maintain this strength over the next 48 hours as it moves toward the Caribbean.
Elsa is moving toward the west-northwest near 28 mph, and this motion is expected to continue during the next couple of days. On the forecast track, Elsa will pass near or over portions of the Windward Islands or the southern Leeward Islands this morning, move across the eastern Caribbean Sea late today and tonight, and move near the southern coast of Hispaniola on Saturday.
By Sunday, Elsa is forecast to move near Jamaica and portions of eastern Cuba.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.
Barbados recently reported sustained winds of 74 mph and a wind gust of 86 mph.
Hurricane Elsa is located 40 miles west of Barbados, and is moving west-northwest at 28 mph.
Possible impacts expected from Tropical Storm Elsa
Wind: Hurricane conditions are occurring on Barbados, and are expected in the hurricane warning area in the Windward Islands in the next few hours.
Tropical storm conditions are expected in portions of the Windward and southern Leeward Islands within the tropical storm warning areas and are possible in the tropical storm watch areas later today.
Tropical storm conditions are expected in the warning areas in the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Saturday, with hurricane conditions possible in southern Haiti. Tropical storm conditions are possible in Jamaica Saturday night or early Sunday.
Storm surge: A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds in the hurricane warning area in the Windward Islands and along the southern coast of Hispaniola.
Rainfall: Elsa is expected to produce rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches with maximum amounts of 10 inches today across the Windward and southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados. This rain may lead to isolated flash flooding and mudslides.
Over Puerto Rico, rainfall of 1 to 3 inches with localized amounts of 5 inches is expected late today into Saturday. This rain may lead to isolated flash flooding and minor river flooding, along with the potential for mudslides.
Across portions of southern Hispaniola and Jamaica, rainfall of 4 to 8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches is possible Saturday into Sunday. This rain may lead to scattered flash flooding and mudslides.
What impact can Florida expect and when?
Even though a track into the eastern Gulf is most likely, Elsa could potentially track northward over the Florida Peninsula — or even just to the east of the Sunshine State, according to AccuWeather forecasters.
There is a risk of storm surge, wind and rainfall impacts to Florida Keys and portions of Florida early next week, the Hurricane Center said.
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“Impacts to the contiguous United States would begin Monday night at the earliest after the system passes through the Caribbean. Residents from the central Gulf Coast, across Florida and to the Carolina coast should monitor the progress of Elsa,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty.
The forecast uncertainty remains larger than usual because of Elsa’s potential interaction with the Greater Antilles this weekend.
AccuWeather meteorologists forecast rainfall in Cuba and Florida from late in the weekend into next week is 15 inches. Where the heaviest rain pours down will depend on the exact track of Elsa, but significant rain, on the order of several inches, can occur well away from the center of the storm.
All Florida residents are encouraged to monitor Elsa’s progress and make preparations.
Elsa sets record for 2021 Atlantic hurricane season
Elsa became the earliest fifth-named storm on record in the Atlantic basin, easily beating out the prior record holder of Tropical Storm Edouard, which formed July 6, 2020.
Elsa became the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
Latest data on Hurricane Elsa
Here is the latest data on Hurricane Elsa pulled from the National Hurricane Center’s 8:30 a.m. advisory.
- Location: 40 miles west of Barbados
- Maximum sustained winds: 75 mph
- Movement: west-northwest at 28 mph
- Pressure: 995 MB (millibars)
- When next advisory will be released: 11 a.m.
Spaghetti models: Track Tropical Storm Elsa here
Watches and warnings in effect
A hurricane warning is in effect for:
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
A tropical storm warning is in effect for:
- The southern coast of Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the border with Haiti
- Entire coast of Haiti
A hurricane watch is in effect for:
- Southern portion of Haiti from Port Au Prince to the southern border with the Dominican Republic
A tropical storm watch is in effect for:
- Grenada and its dependencies
- Saba and Sint Eustatius
A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case in the next few hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area.
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