Updated Jul 2, 2021 - Science

Elsa becomes 1st hurricane of Atlantic season

Photo: CIRA/RAAMB
Photo: CIRA/RAAMB

Elsa strengthened into the first hurricane of the Atlantic season on Friday, threatening parts of the Caribbean as a Category 1 storm.

Why it matters: Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted an above-average storm season in the Atlantic this year.

The latest: A hurricane warning was issued for parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti early Friday afternoon, per the National Hurricane Center.

  • The storm had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph.
  • A tropical storm warning was in effect for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Jamaica and parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
  • "Elsa is expected to produce rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches with maximum amounts of 15 inches today across the Windward and southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados," NOAA said Friday afternoon.
  • Outer rain bands from the storm will impact Puerto Rico late Friday into Saturday, NOAA said, adding that flooding and mudslides are possible.
  • NOAA added there is a "risk of storm surge, wind and rainfall impacts in the Florida Keys and portions of the Florida Peninsula early next week. However, the forecast uncertainty remains larger than usual."

Our thought bubble via Axios climate and energy reporter Andrew Freedman: Both the intensity and track forecast for Hurricane Elsa have a higher amount of uncertainty than we typically see at this time range.

  • How much the storm interacts with land, particularly the higher elevations of Hispaniola, may determine how strong the storm is if it directly affects Florida.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information.

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