Tropical Storm Elsa Set to Hit Caribbean Islands

Caribbean islands are bracing themselves for dangerous rains and winds as the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season barrels down on the region.

The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning—which predicts the likelihood of such conditions within 36 hours—for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Martinique and St. Lucia. It also issued a tropical storm watch for Guadeloupe and Grenada and its dependencies.

However, the hurricane center said it was too early to tell whether Tropical Storm Elsa would hit Miami, Florida, where a desperate search continues to find survivors in the rubble of the collapsed Champlain Towers condo in Surfside.

Although the center of the storm was around 800 miles southeast of the Windward islands on Thursday morning, it was moving westwards at a rate of 25 miles an hour and expected to hit land imminently.

The hurricane center said Elsa would pass near or over parts of the Windward Islands or the southern Leeward Islands on Friday. It would then move into the eastern Caribbean Sea late on Friday and to the southern coast of the island of Hispaniola on Saturday.

Maximum sustained winds are close to 40 mph, which are expected to strengthen over the next couple of days, the agency added. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from Elsa's center.

National Hurrican Center graphic
A graphic by the National Hurricane Center of Tropical Storm Elsa. The center has warned that the fifth named storm of the hurricane season could soon hit a number of Caribbean islands. NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER

Other islands in the region, including the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, have been warned to keep tabs on the storm.

"Elsa is expected to produce rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches with maximum totals of 8 inches on Friday across the Windward and southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados," the center said in its advisory, which was issued at 5 a.m ET on Thursday. "This rain may lead to isolated flash flooding and mudslides."

"Interests in Florida 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 forecast added.

Subtropical Storm Ana became the first named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season when it formed on May 22.

Ana's arrival made it the seventh year in a row that a named storm formed before the hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30.

In 2020, there was a record-breaking hurricane season, with 30 named storms. In May, federal scientists predicted that there could be between 13 and 20 named storms this season, between six and 10 hurricanes, and three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic.

Ben Friedman, deputy undersecretary for operations at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The New York Times in May: "An above-normal season is most likely."