Tracking the Tropics: Elsa becomes 1st Atlantic hurricane of 2021 with Florida in cone

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tropical Storm Elsa upgraded to a hurricane as it neared the Lesser Antilles Friday morning, threatening the area with isolated flash flooding and mudslides, the National Hurricane Center said.

The forecast path shows Elsa arriving in the Gulf of Mexico early next week with most of Florida in the cone of uncertainty, but that is subject to change.

At 8:30 a.m. ET Friday, Elsa had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, and was centered about 40 miles west of Barbados. The system was moving west-northwest at 28 mph.

Elsa is expected to pass near or over the Windward Islands or the southern Leeward Islands Friday, before moving into the eastern Caribbean Sea late Friday, and near the southern cost of Hispaniola on Saturday. It will near Jamaica and eastern Cuba on Sunday. Little change is strength is expected over the next 48 hours.

The storm could produce 3 to 6 inches of rain across the Windward and southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados, with isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches. Forecasters say the rain could lead to isolated flash flooding and mudslides. One to three feet of storm surge could occur in the hurricane warning area in the Windward Islands and along the southern coast of Hispaniola.

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A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…

  • Barbados
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…

  • Martinique
  • 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
  • Jamaica
  • Dominica

Elsa is first hurricane of the Atlantic season and the earliest-known fifth named storm on record for the Atlantic basin in the satellite era, breaking the record formerly held by Edouard on July 6, 2020, the hurricane center said.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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