Tropical Storm Elsa

Tropical Storm Elsa, 5th named storm of season, forms. Will its track bring it to Florida?

A new Tropical Storm, Elsa, has become the fifth named storm of the season. The storm formed early Thursday in the Atlantic and South Florida in its cone of uncertainty early next week.

Warnings have already been issued for the Windward and Leeward Islands. It’s suggested that Residents of the Caribbean and Florida closely track the storm.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Elsa was centered about 600 miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands as of early Thursday afternoon.

“Florida residents should monitor updates to the forecast for this system, but it is too soon to determine what if any impacts could occur there next week given the uncertainty in the long-range forecast,” the National Hurricane Center wrote in its 5 a.m. Thursday advisory.

Elsa is the earliest-known fifth named storm recorded for the Atlantic basin.

In addition, a tropical storm warning is in effect for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Warnings are in effect for Barbados, Martinique, and St. Lucia.

Forecasters are expecting additional watches and warnings to be issued later Thursday and say that tropical storm conditions will likely begin in the warning .

Elsa is expected to gain strength as it travels over a patch of warm water, high humidity and low wind shear. However, forecasters said Elsa’s accelerated movement could split the storm’s top and bottom half up, which could halt strengthening.

“A fast-moving storm in this part of the Atlantic normally has a hard time staying organized and staying un-sheared,” said Levi Cowan, a meteorologist who runs Tropical Tidbits, in a video analysis of the storm posted Thursday afternoon.

The current projected path also takes Elsa over some mountainous islands, another potential weakening factor.

The system is forecast to pass near portions of the Windward Islands or the southern Leeward Islands on Friday. After that, it is expected to move into the eastern Caribbean Sea late Friday. Saturday, it would be near the southern coast of Hispaniola Saturday.

The hurricane center says there’s still a lot of uncertainty in Elsa’s track after Day 3, partly because the storm doesn’t have a fixed center, which makes it harder to track. Some models have it turning northward after interacting with Hispaniola. Other models take Elsa across western Cuba and into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Elsa is expected to produce three to six inches of rain on Friday across the Windward and the southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados, with separate areas possibly seeing up to eight inches of rain. This rain can lead to isolated flash flooding and mudslides.

The hurricane center said there is a “risk of wind and rainfall impacts” for portions of the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Cuba, the Turks and Caicos, and the southeastern Bahamas through early next week.

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