Elsa is once again a Tropical Storm, and the forecast models are finally starting to come to a consensus. Sort of.
Hurricane Hunters this morning had trouble finding hurricane-force winds anywhere in their flight path, and passing near Hispaniola helped to take some of the punch out of the storm, but the NHC cautions that the storm may also pass a bit further away from the islands than previously expected, which could help support some re-strengthening. The exact path the storm takes over the next 24-48 hours… hitting and dodging portions of Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba… will likely play a big factor in the storm’s future strength as it passes those landmasses and approaches the Florida Keys and Gulf of Mexico. Whether or not current wind shear affecting the storm maintains its influence will also factor into future development. Right now it’s a sort of “tilted” storm, and that makes intensification difficult.
Tropical Storm watches have now been issued for the Florida Keys, and future watches along the Florida peninsula are possible in the coming days. Here are the NHC’s key messages for folks in Florida, including a continued focus on the amount of uncertainty that still remains part of the forecast.
There is an increasing risk of tropical storm conditions, storm surge, and rainfall impacts beginning Monday in the Florida Keys and the southern Florida Peninsula, and a Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect for portions of the Florida Keys. This risk will spread northward along the Florida Peninsula through Wednesday and reach the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas Wednesday and Thursday, however uncertainty in the forecast remains larger than usual due to Elsa's potential interaction with the islands of Hispaniola and Cuba. Interests elsewhere in Florida and along the southeast U.S. coast should monitor Elsa's progress and updates to the forecast.
Regardless of the exact path, the system will likely impact the Attractions Area with a risk of heavy rainfall and possible spin-up tornadoes.
We’ll know more about that threat in the days to come. In the meantime, keep calm and carry on!