Tropical Storm Elsa Path Update as Rapidly Moving Storm Heads Toward Florida

Residents in Florida are being warned to stay alert after the projected path of Tropical Storm Elsa, which formed east of the Caribbean Sea on Thursday, was extended to include southern parts of the Sunshine State in the coming days.

If Elsa were to hit Florida, it could affect the rescue operation in Surfside, near Miami, where the search for survivors of a collapsed structure at Champlain Towers South is continuing. Eighteen bodies have already been recovered and 145 people are still unaccounted for.

In its advisory on Friday at 5 a.m (ET), the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that tropical storm conditions were expected to begin later in the morning in parts of the Windward and Leeward islands.

As of Friday morning, Elsa was centered about 70 miles east-southeast of Barbados and it's expected on Saturday to deliver tropical storm conditions to Jamaica and hurricane conditions over southern parts of Hispaniola.

Heavy rainfall is expected to impact Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Jamaica over the weekend, when "flooding and mudslides are possible."

The U.S. could also be affected soon, with the NHC describing the "risk of a storm surge, wind and rainfall impacts in the Florida Keys and portions of the Florida peninsula early next week."

"Interests in Florida should monitor Elsa's progress and updates to the forecast," the center added in its statement.

It also pointed out there was a "larger than usual" uncertainty around what might happen in the coming days because of Elsa's interaction with the Greater Antilles over the weekend.

Here are the 5 am AST Friday, July 2 Key Messages for Tropical Storm #Elsa. Tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches are now in effect for portions of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) July 2, 2021

With all of South Florida in the cone of Elsa, NHC meteorologist Robert Garcia told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "It isn't unreasonable for South Floridians to be ready for the potential of a Category 1 hurricane knocking on our door early next week."

"It is something that can't be ruled out, and folks should be aware that's something we may have to prepare for here during the holiday weekend."

He added that the impact of the storm should come after the Fourth of July holiday and so should not affect scheduled fireworks shows, although wherever the storm system goes, Elsa is expected to bring rain.

The NHC said that Elsa was approaching the Lesser Antilles, where tropical storm conditions are expected to start on Friday morning. Heavy rainfall is expected, and Cuba, the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas could also face heavy winds and rainfall next week.

Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm of the Atlantic storm season, with the old record held by Edouard, which developed last year on July 5.

Federal scientists have predicted that there could be up to 20 named storms, 10 hurricanes and five major hurricanes of Category 3 level or higher during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

National Hurricane Center graphic of Storm Elsa
The graphic from the National Hurricane Center from July 2, 2021, shows Tropical Storm Elsa. Residents in Florida are advised to be aware of the path of the Atlantic hurricane season's fifth storm. NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER