2021 Hurricane Season

Elsa Strengthens Into Season's 1st Hurricane in Caribbean

No watches or warnings have been issued for Elsa in South Florida

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What to Know

  • Elsa strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane on Friday, with maximum sustained winds of 84 mph
  • Most of South Florida was in the system's cone of concern
  • No watches or warnings have been issued for South Florida

Elsa strengthened into the first hurricane of the Atlantic season on Friday, blowing off roofs and snapping trees in the eastern Caribbean, as most of South Florida remained in the system's forecast cone.

Elsa's maximum sustained winds remained at 85 mph while it moved west at 30 mph about 505 miles southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Most of South Florida remained in the cone of concern, which shifted slightly to the west, with Elsa forecast to potentially move across the area as early as Monday. Some models showed the system heading into the Gulf or up the Atlantic Coast.

No watches or warnings have been issued for South Florida.

Officials speak on the potential conditions South Florida could be facing in the coming days.

A hurricane warning was issued for Jamaica, the southern portion of Haiti from Port Au Prince to the border with the Dominican Republic and the southern coast of Dominican Republic from Punta Palenque to the border with Haiti.

Cuba issued a hurricane watch for the provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Martinique, the coast of Haiti north of Port Au Prince, and the south coast of the Dominican Republic east of Punta Palenque to Cabo Engano.

A tropical storm watch was in effect for Grenada, Saba and Sint Eustatius, the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Bahia de Manzanillo, and Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

The long-term track showed the fast-moving storm rolling toward Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as a hurricane before weakening back to tropical storm force and potentially heading to Florida by early Tuesday.

The best-case scenario would be the storm missing South Florida far south or far east. If the storm approaches Key West, that would bring high impact weather to the Keys and disruptive, tropical bands of wind and rain to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Surfside.

Between four and 15 inches of rain was expected to fall starting Friday for areas included in the Windward Islands and Barbados, which may lead to isolated flooding and mudslides. A storm surge between one and four feet is also projected.

Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record, beating out last year’s Eduardo which formed on July 6, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.

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