A USAF mission into Elsa along with radar data and surface observations from Barbados indicate that Elsa is now a hurricane. However, uncertainty remains about the storm’s track and intensification.
Just yesterday, the NHC showed Elsa remaining a tropical storm all the way to Florida. Now, the National Hurricane Center shows hurricane conditions are quickly spreading into the Windward Islands. Various watches and warnings are in effect for portions of the Caribbean Islands (See graphic below).
86 MPH Winds Reported
According to Jeff Lindner, Harris County’s meteorologist, Elsa has taken advantage of favorable conditions in the last 24 hours. Both the Air Force and land observers reported sustained winds of 86mph this morning. That makes Elsa a hurricane. Radar indicates good banding features and a small, central core.
However, the system has thus far kept its low- and upper-level centers aligned.
A strong sub-tropical ridge of high pressure to the north of the hurricane, will influence the track for the next 48 hours. Then Elsa will approach a weakness in the ridge and the forecasts become more uncertain.
One model shows the storm nearly dissipating over the Dominican Republic by Sunday. However, others show Elsa turning more north. Increasingly, this appears to be the more likely outcome. However, the spread is very large from east of the Bahamas to near the northern Yucatan at days 4-5 so confidence remains lower than average on the track.
Conditions seem favorable for increasing development. But the fast forward motion of Elsa could become a negative factor. Models show a large spread in intensity guidance, but most keep Elsa near the intensity it is now. As it approaches the Gulf, it should be a strong tropical storm or weak hurricane, but some forecasters see it growing much stronger.
NHC continues to lean toward the lower end of the guidance spectrum, but continues to indicate that Elsa could become stronger than forecasted – especially over the NW Caribbean Sea early next week.
Keep one eye on the Gulf. For the latest updates, check the National Hurricane Center.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/2/2021 at 8:30 am based on information from the NHC and HCFCD
1403 Days since Hurricane Harvey