Tropical Storm Elsa nearing Cuba with Florida to follow
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As Tropical Storm Elsa approaches Cuba, Tropical Storm Warnings and Watches have extended northward along the west coast of Florida.
Elsa appears to be holding steady in strength while moving just south of central Cuba.
Given the overall favorable environmental conditions, Elsa could strengthen a little before it reaches the coast of Cuba later this morning. Some weakening is expected due to the land interaction with Cuba, but most of the model guidance suggests that Elsa could restrengthen slightly before it moves inland over Florida. Significant strengthening is not anticipated though due to moderate wind shear.
A gradual turn to the north is expected over the next day or two as Elsa moves in the flow between the ridge and a mid- to upper-level low over the northern Gulf of Mexico. This steering pattern should take the core of Elsa across central or western Cuba later this morning, near the Lower Florida Keys tonight or early Tuesday, and then along or very near the west coast of Florida later on Tuesday through early Wednesday.
The new track forecast is just a little to the left of the previous one to be in better agreement with the latest consensus models.
Most of the models show Elsa moving inland over west-central or northern Florida, but given the expected parallel motion to the coast, much of the west coast of the state will likely see impacts from Elsa on Tuesday and into Wednesday.
After Elsa clears Florida, it’s expected to move faster north-northeastward across coastal Georgia and the Carolinas Wednesday and Thursday before moving over the western Atlantic.
However, it should be noted that given the expected track, much of the west coast of Florida will be on the east side of Elsa, which is where the strongest winds, highest surge, and heaviest rains are expected to be.
Gradual weakening is forecast while Elsa moves across portions of the southeast U.S., but some restrengthening is possible again when the storm moves over the western Atlantic.
- Heavy rain will impact the Cayman Islands and Cuba today resulting in significant flooding and mudslides over Cuba. As Elsa approaches the Florida Keys, Florida Peninsula, and coastal Georgia Monday through Wednesday, heavy rainfall may result in isolated flash, urban, and minor river flooding. Mid to late week, heavy rains across coastal South Carolina and North Carolina may result in isolated flash and urban flooding.
- Tropical storm conditions and a dangerous storm surge are expected to continue across portions of central and western Cuba today. Hurricane conditions are also possible along the south coast this morning.
- Tropical storm conditions are expected in portions of the Florida Keys and southwestern Florida tonight and Tuesday, where a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect. A Tropical Storm Watch and a Storm Surge Watch are in effect for much of the west coast of Florida.
- There is a risk of tropical storm conditions and storm surge impacts along the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas Wednesday and Thursday.
Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts above-normal 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
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