Hurricane Elsa Cruises Through the Caribbean

After starting hurricane season with 4 “tropical storms” that were probably not tropical, the first hurricane of the season has developed.

Hurricane Elsa formed as Tropical Depression Five late Wednesday night well east of the Lesser Antilles, and became Tropical Storm Elsa on Thursday. It rapidly intensified into a hurricane Friday morning as it approached Barbados. As Elsa crossed the Windward Islands Friday morning/early afternoon it produced wind gusts as high as 86 mph on Barbados and 79 mph on Saint Lucia. This is the earliest in the season that a storm has hit Barbados, and it is the 2nd earliest Hurricane ever in the eastern Caribbean, trailing only an unnamed storm from 1933.

Satellite loop of Hurricane Elsa. Loop provided by NOAA.

As of 2am Saturday, Hurricane Elsa was centered approximately 620 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, moving toward the west-northwest at 29 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 80 mph.

Hurricane Warnings are in effect for southern portions of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as for the island of Jamaica, with Tropical Storm Warnings for the remainder of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for parts of eastern Cuba, and a Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for parts of the Cayman Islands.

Watches and Warnings associated with Hurricane Elsa. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Elsa could strengthen a bit on Saturday, but for the most part, weakening is forecast. Some dry air got entrained in the circulation late Friday, okus the current rapid forward speed with both serve to inhibit any further strengthening, Although Elsa is expected to slow down over the next 24 hours, a turn more toward the northwest is expected. This will bring the storm closer to Hispaniola, where the mountainous terrain could disrupt the circulation as well.

Model forecasts for the intensity of Hurricane Elsa. Image provided by

Current forecasts bring the center of the storm close to southern Haiti Saturday night, then toward southeastern and southern Cuba on Sunday. The intensity of the storm will be determined partially by the track the storm takes. The longer the circulation center stays over water, the better chance that the storm is stronger.

Model forecasts for the track of Hurricane Elsa. Image provided by

As the storm slows down, it increases the chances for heavy rainfall across southern portions of Hispaniola, eastern and southern Cuba, and parts of Jamaica. Rainfall totals of 6-12 inches and locally heavier will lead to flooding and mudslides.

Elsa will bring heavy rainfall to portions of the Caribbean. Image provided by

Elsa is expected to cross Cuba on Monday while turning northward. Given that this is already three days out, the uncertainty in the forecast becomes much large. A track towards Florida seems likely, but is far from definite at this point. Several models bring the storm up the west coast of Florida, while many others bring it up the east coast or even over the Bahamas. How strong the storm is at this point is also highly uncertain. Residents from the central Gulf Coast all the way to the Carolinas should keep tabs on the system this weekend, as it has the potential to impact anywhere within that range by the early to middle portion of next week.

Forecasts for Elsa’s track from the 51 members of the ECMWF Ensemble. Image provided by

Elsewhere, the tropics remain fairly quiet, with no other organized systems at this time.

Weekend Outlook: July 2-5, 2021

It’s a long holiday weekend for most of you, but unfortunately, it’s not going to be all sunshine and warm temperatures.

What’s left of the warm and humid weather disappears overnight as a frontal boundary settles south of the region. This will bring in showers and thunderstorms, some of which may produce heavy rain. The front stalls out to our south on Friday, with waves of low pressure riding along it, bringing in more showers, along with much cooler conditions. Some of the models are forecasting very heavy rainfall across the region, which could lead to some areas of flooding. We’re not quite sure we believe some of these numbers, but your lawn should definitely get a big drink of water over the next few days.

Parts of the region could see quite a bit of rain this weekend. Images provided by Pivotal Weather,

Over the weekend, the front washes out, but an upper-level low pressure system will slowly move across the region. This will keep clouds and cool temperatures in place, especially on Saturday, with some occasional showers, but neither day looks to be a washout. While Sunday isn’t ideal barbecue weather for the Fourth of July, it may not be THAT bad. Just keep an eye on the radar if you do have outdoor plans. By Monday, the upper low moves out, and we get back into sunshine and temperatures closer to normal for early July.

Some models try to keep it very cool around here on Saturday. Image provided by WeatherBell.

In the tropics, Tropical Storm Elsa was centered about 345 miles east-southeast of Barbados this evening, moving toward the west-northwest at 28 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph. Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings are in effect for various islands in the eastern and northern Caribbean. The current forecast calls for some strengthening, as conditions remain favorable for the next day or so, but unless it slows down, it won’t strengthen too much. We’ll take a much more in-depth look at Elsa in a special blog post either Friday afternoon or evening.

Forecast track for Tropical Storm Elsa. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Thursday night: Cloudy with periods of rain and showers and some embedded thunderstorms. Low 59-66, a little milder near the South Coast.

Friday: Mostly cloudy with more showers, especially in the morning. High 64-71. Offshore: Winds becoming northeast to north 10-15 knots, gusts to 20 knots, seas 3-6 feet, visibility under 1 mile in showers and fog.

Friday night: Plenty of clouds with more showers likely. Low 53-60.

Saturday: Mostly cloudy and cool with occasional showers. High 59-66. Offshore: Northeast 10-20 knots gusts to 25 knots, seas 3-6 feet, visibility 1-3 miles in showers and fog.

Saturday night: Mostly cloudy, chance for a few showers. Low 51-58.

Fourth of July: Clouds and some sunny breaks with more showers possible. High 65-72. Offshore: Northwest 10-15 knots, seas 3-6 feet, visibility 1-3 miles in showers and fog.

Sunday night: Showers end in the evening, some clearing late at night. Low 52-59.

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny. High 74-81. Offshore: Southwest 10-20 knots, seas 3-5 feet, visibility 10 miles or better.