Hurricane Elsa downgraded to tropical storm; Florida in path next week

Elsa, the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic storm season, was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday and was on track to hit Florida by early next week.

“We are pretty confident that we will see at least one tropical storm that will hit many Florida communities,” said Governor Ron DeSantis at a surfside press conference early Saturday.

“You’re looking at a stretch that is likely to be across western Cuba, ending in the Florida Strait, and then hitting Florida with the eye of the storm that’s on the west side of Florida right now,” he said.

Elsa should move near the south coast of Hispaniola on Saturday and near Jamaica and parts of eastern Cuba on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm should slow down on Saturday and Sunday and turn northwest on Sunday night or Monday.

Florida Condo Collapse: The demolition of the remaining structure was brought forward due to storm concerns

The National Hurricane Center announced that Elsa should move through central and western Cuba by Monday and drive in the direction of the Florida Straits and by Tuesday near or over parts of the west coast of Florida.

The sustained winds were about 70 miles per hour, making the tropical storm almost a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. EDT warning. Elsa was 60 km south of Isla Beata in the Dominican Republic, moving at 45 km / h from west to northwest.

For parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where almost hurricane conditions and dangerous storm surges were expected by Saturday evening, a hurricane warning was still valid, said the National Hurricane Center.

A power pole felled by Hurricane Elsa leans against the edge of a residential balcony on Friday, July 2, 2021 in Cedars, St. Vincent.  Elsa intensified in the first hurricane of the Atlantic season on Friday as it blasted roofs and knocked down trees in the eastern Caribbean, where officials closed schools, shops and airports.

Tropical storms, storm surges, and rains were expected to begin in the Florida Keys and southern Florida Peninsula on Monday, the National Hurricane Center said. The risk was expected to spread north along the peninsula by Wednesday and hit the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas on Wednesday and Thursday.

“However, uncertainty in the forecast remains greater than usual due to Elsa’s potential interaction with the islands of Hispaniola and Cuba,” said the National Hurricane Center. “Interests in Florida and along the southeastern US coast should monitor Elsa’s progress and forecast updates.”

The impending storm prompted Florida officials on Saturday to abruptly demolish plans to demolish the remaining portion of a Miami area where the condo collapsed last week, amid the threat of a secondary collapse of the damaged structure, potentially putting rescue teams at risk.

Robert Molleda, a meteorologist for warning coordination for the National Weather Service in Miami, said conditions in South Florida could worsen as early as Monday afternoon, including frequent rainbands and gusty winds. The conditions could last until Tuesday.

“But remember, any slight shift to the east would mean that we would get worse conditions here,” said Molleda. “We cannot let our vigilance down.”

Elsa became the earliest e-storm ever recorded, beating Edouard, who was founded on July 6, 2020. Elsa was the fifth named storm of the season in the Atlantic.

Spaghetti models for tropical storm Elsa

Track the tropical storm Elsa

Contact News Reporter Christine Fernando now at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern. Follow Breaking News reporter Grace Hauck at @grace_hauck.

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