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Tropical Storm Elsa maintains its strength and speed, South Florida remains outside the cone

Chris Perkins, Keven Lerner, Steve Svekis and David Fleshler, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in Weather News

Satchell suggested travelers check with their airlines for possible delays or cancellations.

Randy Smith, spokesman for the South Florida Water Management District, said they’re lowering canals in Broward and Miami-Dade counties and sending the water to the ocean through gates and pump stations.

“We’ll put them in a low range and that’s because we anticipate significant rainfall from Elsa,” he said.

Smith also said people should check neighborhood drainage areas and make sure nothing is blocking the path. Otherwise, the water could back up and flood.

“Don’t wait until it starts raining,” he said.

Smith said if a big clearance job is required people should call their local public works department.

Florida Power & Light is also monitoring Elsa. It said customers can go to FPL.com/storm for information on things such as outages.

“We’re ready,” spokesman Peter Robbins said. “We have trained for storms year-round. We’ve got our people and equipment on standby and we’ll keep watching and see how it develops.”

Robbins said at this point it’s too late to trim trees because trash pickup could be disrupted by Elsa’s approach.

Hurricane Elsa could also disrupt travel plans on the busy July 4 weekend. Florida expects to have 2.6 million drivers on the roads, according to AAA The Auto Club Group. Last year, in the midst of the COVID-19 threat, Florida has just fewer than 2 million drivers on the road for July, according to AAA.

Elsa was being watched carefully by officials in Surfside, as well.

”Any bad significant wind could potentially bring down the remaining part of that building,” T.J. Lyon, chair of Florida’s Statewide Emergency Response Plan, told weather.com. ”Any bad weather is going to have a significant impact on the incident scene.”

Elsa’s track and intensity are still being watched carefully.

“This forecast is most complicated by land interaction,” meteorologist Jonathan Belles of The Weather Channel said in an email. “We don’t know exactly how this system will interact with Hispaniola, Jamaica or Cuba this weekend. The more interaction Elsa has with those countries, the weaker the storm will be as it gets closer to Florida.

“A secondary factor that we’ll be watching with this system is its forward speed. It is being shoved westward at a much faster clip than most systems can sustain themselves at, but this forward speed should slow down somewhat. Wind shear is a concern with this storm too, but to a lesser degree than the other two factors.”

Elsa is a record-breaker, becoming the earliest-forming fifth storm in recorded history. The previous record was held by Tropical Storm Eduardo, which formed on July 5, 2020.

 

Elsa’s hurricane development is 39 days ahead of when meteorologists typically observe the first hurricane formation of the season; which on average usually happens on Aug. 10, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s database.

Forecasters mentioned Elsa’s possible development into a hurricane Thursday, but there was no hint it would develop so quickly.

“I would say at this point, with a Tropical Storm being forecast, it isn’t unreasonable for South Floridians to be ready for the potential of a Category 1 hurricane knocking on our door early next week,” Garcia said.

“It is something that can’t be ruled out, and folks should be aware that’s something we may have to prepare for here during the holiday weekend.”

Whichever way the system goes, Elsa seems sure to bring rain to already-saturated South Florida — and it could bring lots.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the southern portion of Haiti from Port Au Prince to the southern border with the Dominican Republic.

A Tropical Storm warning is in effect for the coast of Haiti north of Port Au Prince, the south coast of the Dominican Republic from Punta Palenque to the border with Haiti, and the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, Santiago de Cuba, and Jamaica.

A hurricane watch in effect forthe Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba.

A Tropical Storm watch is in effect for the south coast of the Dominican Republic east of Punta Palenque to Cabo Engano, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, and the Cuban provinces of Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, and Matanzas.

The determining factor of where Elsa goes, and when it turns north from its current westward direction, is the Bermuda High, a high-pressure system that is the storm’s steering mechanism. It’s essentially what deflects storms from Florida or allows them near.

“This influence will last into the weekend before we start to reach the western edge of the Bermuda High and begin to turn northward,” Belles said.

“If the Bermuda High is strong, storms often go westward into Central America,” he said, “but if that Bermuda High is weaker, storms can recurve northward over the Greater Antilles and out into the Atlantic. It appears that Elsa will split this envelope of climatology down the middle.

Last year’s first hurricane, Hanna, developed into a hurricane and made landfall in Texas on July 25.

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©2021 South Florida Sun Sentinel. Visit at sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
 

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