FORECAST TRACK FOR HURRICANE ELSA SHIFTS SLIGHTLY EAST… Elsa became a hurricane this morning. The National Hurricane center upgraded Elsa to hurricane status due to a large band of thunderstorms near the center of the storm ramping up and producing 80+ mph winds in parts of the southern Lesser Antilles. This status change does not affect the ongoing forecast for Elsa, with the storm expected to move into the eastern Caribbean Sea over the next several hours, followed by a general northwesterly movement toward Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba this weekend. The 11AM advisory from NHC continues to keep the dreaded “cone of uncertainty” a bit to the east of our local area, putting the Florida Peninsula squarely in the middle of the cone. We note the latest 5 day projection from NHC has more of a northeasterly movement across the Florida Peninsula by the middle of next week. If this scenario panned out (and forecast changes are still possible!), this would be great news for our local area.
FORECAST TRENDS GOOD FOR LOCAL AREA… It is true that the forecast trends with Tropical Storm Elsa have been good news for our local area in that track confidence continues to slowly increase on a path that would take the system well to our east. Keep in mind, however, that this system is still 5-6 days out and forecast changes are still LIKELY. The trends have been good, but let’s get more data in before we give it an all clear just yet. IF trends continue (and I hope they do!), we may be able to give a total all clear from Elsa for our local area later in the weekend.
ELSA TO MOVE TOWARD SOUTH FLORIDA THIS WEEKEND… Impacts in South Florida from Tropical Storm Elsa, specifically in the Florida Keys, may begin as early as Sunday evening. The official ‘cone of uncertainty’ from the National Hurricane Center continues to show general movement toward the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Peninsula. Technically, the cone of uncertainty includes Port St. Joe, FL and points eastward, including all of the Florida Peninsula (Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Myers, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, the Florida Keys are all in the cone of uncertainty). Model guidance has been fairly consistent over the last 24-36 hours showing a track near the Florida Peninsula, but it remains too soon to know if the center of Elsa will move into the Gulf, straight north across the Peninsula, or even north into the Atlantic near The Bahamas. Regardless of this uncertainty, everyone from Panama City, FL and points south and east should be thinking about the potential for a tropical storm or even a category 1 hurricane moving near you in the days ahead.
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I will have more updates posted throughout the day in the RedZone Weather app. Have a nice Friday afternoon!