Elsa gaining strength as bears down on Hispaniola; Florida still on guard
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Hurricane Elsa continues to strengthen as it moves into the eastern Caribbean Sea. Storms are beginning to wrap around what appears to be a developing core.
Reports from a NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are now near 85 mph with higher gusts. Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours. Some decrease in winds is possible on Monday as Elsa interacts with Cuba. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.
On the forecast track, Elsa will move away from the Windward Islands during the next several hours, move across the eastern Caribbean Sea this afternoon and tonight, and move near the southern coast of Hispaniola late Saturday or Saturday night.
By Sunday, Elsa is forecast to move near Jamaica and portions of eastern Cuba, and move near portions of central and western Cuba Sunday night and early Monday
All of this will be an aid to the computer models which, right now, ranging from dissipating the storm in the Caribbean to building a category three storm in the Gulf.
Currently, the best forecast shows the earliest impact from a closer storm forecast occurring on, at the earliest, Monday morning and with a most likely time of Tuesday, if we see an impact. We will know more as we move into the weekend as to the impacts on Florida.
A west wind pattern is now established over Florida. This flow pattern favors morning showers near the coast and inland storms in the afternoon. Slightly less rain is expected over the weekend.
The numbers at 2 p.m., Friday:
Location: 13.7N 62.5W, about 95 miles west-northwest of St. Vincent; and 580 miles east of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Maximum sustained winds: 85 mph
Present movement: West-northwest at 29 mph
Minimum central pressure: 991 mb (29.26 inches)
Wind: Hurricane conditions are expected in the hurricane warning area in the Windward Islands for the next few hours. Tropical storm conditions are expected in portions of the Windward and southern Leeward Islands within the tropical storm warning areas and are possible in the tropical storm watch areas later today. Hurricane conditions are expected in the hurricane warning area in Haiti by late Saturday and are possible in the hurricane watch area in the Dominican Republic by late Saturday. Hurricane conditions are possible on Jamaica late Saturday or Sunday.
Storm Surge: A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds in the hurricane warning area in the Windward Islands and 2 to 4 feet above normal tide levels along the southern coast of Hispaniola.
Rainfall: Elsa is expected to produce rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches with maximum amounts of 15 inches today across the Windward and southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados. This rain may lead to isolated flash flooding and mudslides.
Over Puerto Rico, rainfall of 1 to 3 inches with localized amounts of 5 inches is expected late today into Saturday. This rain may lead to isolated flash flooding and minor river flooding, along with the potential for mudslides.
Across portions of southern Hispaniola and Jamaica, rainfall of 4 to 8 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches is possible Saturday into Sunday. This rain may lead to scattered flash flooding and mudslides.
A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in this case in the next few hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.
A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous.
A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area.
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