FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Tropical Storm Elsa continued blazing a path in Florida’s direction Saturday afternoon, with winds that could reach South Florida as early as Sunday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Elsa weakened to tropical storm status Saturday morning, its wind speed falling to 70 mph as it started to rough up Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The storm might briefly regain hurricane strength, which requires windspeeds of at least 74 mph, according to the 2 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center.
But even if that happens, Elsa isn’t forecast to remain a hurricane very long as wind shear prompted by its rapid forward motion and possible interaction with land would likely reduce its intensity.
The storm’s forecast cone remains just west of South Florida. But some models still show it striking the region, and the National Hurricane Center said confidence in the forecast track is higher but there’s still “significant uncertainty” in the intensity track. And the cone shows only the possible locations of the storm’s center, which means hurricane-force or tropical-force winds could extend well outside the cone.
Elsa is expected to be near or over portions of Florida’s west coast Tuesday, according to the hurricane center.
The east side of the storm, and specifically the northeast quadrant of the storm, produce the most rain and the biggest threat from tornadoes, experts say.
If Elsa’s center passes through the center of the state, South Florida could be lined up for lots of inclement weather.
If Elsa’s center passes far west of Florida, or even east of South Florida, the inclement weather figures to be reduced.
Water in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Straits is strong enough to keep Elsa as a Tropical Storm as it approaches Florida early next week, according to forecasters.