in Breaking News, General, Local Forecasts, Severe Weather, Tropics

Elsa has eye set on the United States, East Coast in the cone

Elsa remains a strong tropical storm Sunday as the storm moves west-northwest through the northern Caribbean. A gradual northwest turn is expected late-Sunday. Elsa has winds of 60 mph with higher gusts. Some slight strengthening is possible.

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Elsa is moving west-northwest at 13 mph between Jamaica and Cuba. A gradual northwest motion is expected late-Sunday, which will track Elsa across Cuba Monday. Before Elsa tracks across Cuba, slight strengthening is possible over the next 12 to 24-hours. Elsa may become a borderline category 1 hurricane.

The landfall over Cuba will help weaken Elsa Monday. The island terrain is rugged in Cuba, which will help weaken the center of circulation. Due to the small nature of the island, this won’t be enough to destroy Elsa. Elsa will move back over warm waters late-Monday, which could allow for additional strengthening Tuesday. While the atmospheric environment won’t be particularly favorable for strengthening, the warm waters cannot be overlooked.

Models do indicate this slight uptick in intensity once Elsa moves over the Florida Straits. Most models do indicate the intensity uptick will be small and Elsa should remain below hurricane status but this will continue to be monitored.

The current forecast tracks Elsa just off the west coast of Florida from Tuesday into Wednesday, making landfall north of Tampa early-Wednesday as a strong tropical storm. The storm will continue to move north-northeast by the end of the week, impacting the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Thursday into Friday.

Models are in agreement with this current forecast. Models do indicate Elsa will impact a good chunk of Florida along with the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. There are some subtle differences with how far east or west the center will track, but regardless, impacts will be the same.

The main concern is areas of heavy rain and isolated flash flooding from early to mid-week across Florida, spreading north and east into the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic from mid to late-week. Widespread 3-6″ of rain can be expected for Florida, southern Alabama, southern and eastern Georiga, and eastern South Carolina. Heavy rain is also expected in eastern North Carolina with 1-3″ possible.

Gusty winds and isolated tornadoes are also expected from Florida into Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina from south to north early week through mid-week. Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for the Florida Keys.