Tropical Storm "Elsa" is approaching the northern Florida Gulf coast at a speed of 22 km/h (14 mph) with maximum sustained winds of 100 km/h (65 mph), as of 12:00 UTC (08:00 EDT) on July 7, 2021. On the forecast track, Elsa will make landfall along the north Florida Gulf coast by late this morning or this afternoon (LT). The storm should then move across the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States through Thursday, July 8.
At the time, Elsa's center was located 55 km (35 miles) W of Cedar Key and 185 km (115 miles) NW of Tampa, Florida. Its minimum central pressure was 999 hPa.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for the west coast of Florida from the Middle of Longboat Key to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the east coast of Florida from Chassahowitzka to the Steinhatchee River.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the west coast of Florida from south of Chassahowitzka to the Middle of Longboat Key; west coast of Florida north of the Steinhatchee River to Ochlockonee River; Mouth of St. Marys River, Georgia to Little River Inlet, South Carolina.
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for the west of the Aucilla River to the Ochlockonee River, Florida.
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect north of Little River Inlet, South Carolina to Chincoteague, Virginia; Pamlico, and Albemarle Sounds.
- As Elsa moves across the western and northern Florida Peninsula today, heavy rainfall may result in a considerable flash, urban, and isolated moderate river flooding.
- Heavy rainfall across southeast Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and southeastern Virginia may result in isolated flash and urban flooding, with considerable flash and urban flooding possible across coastal Georgia and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
- Heavy rainfall across the Northeast and New England Thursday and Friday could lead to isolated flash and urban flooding.
- There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the west coast of Florida today, and a Storm Surge Warning is in effect for that area.
- Hurricane conditions are possible during the next several hours along a portion of the west coast of Florida, where a Hurricane Warning is in effect. Tropical storm conditions are occurring across portions of the western Florida peninsula and will continue to spread northward along the west coast of the state within the warning area through today.
- Although the center of Elsa is expected to remain inland of the coastline from Georgia through the Carolinas during the next day or two, tropical storm conditions are expected along much of the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. Tropical storm conditions are also possible along the coast of the mid-Atlantic state by Thursday night or Friday, July 9.
Tropical Storm "Elsa" at 12:00 UTC on July 7, 2021. Credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, RAMMB/CIRA, TW
Tropical Storm "Elsa" formed at 09:00 UTC on July 1, becoming the earliest fifth-named storm on record, surpassing the previous record held by Tropical Storm "Edouard" of the previous year, which formed on July 6.
Elsa also became a tropical storm farther east in the Main Development Region (MDR) than any other tropical cyclone so early in the calendar year on record, behind only the 1933 Trinidad hurricane.
It slowly strengthened as it accelerated westward, and at 10:45 UTC on July 2, the NHC upgraded it to a Category 1 hurricane, making Elsa the eastern-most hurricane recorded in the MDR, south of 23.5°N, this early in the calendar year since 1933.
Around that time, Elsa was moving at a forward speed of 47 km/h (29 mph), making it the fastest-moving Atlantic tropical cyclone recorded undergoing rapid intensification in the deep tropics or the Gulf of Mexico, and also the first storm to undergo rapid intensification in that part of the Atlantic that early in the calendar year since another storm in 1908.
At 15:00 UTC on July 3, Elsa weakened back into a tropical storm, due to northeasterly wind shear, which was partially due to the storm's rapid forward motion at almost 48 km/h (30 mph).
Afterward, Elsa's forward motion significantly slowed down to 22 km/h (14 mph) on July 4, as its center relocated to the east under the region with the strongest convection, while passing just north of Jamaica.
At 18:00 UTC on July 5, Elsa made landfall near Cienega de Zapata, a natural park in west-central Cuba, with maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h (50 mph).
Cuba's meteorological institute – INSMET said Elsa passed through the island bringing winds of 100 km/h (62 mph) and some stronger gusts. Ahead of the landfall, Cuba ordered the evacuation of 180 000 people from its southern regions.
Up to 250 mm (10 inches) of rain was expected across parts of Cuba with up to 380 mm (15 inches) in some areas.
"The most recent July named storm (e.g., tropical storm or hurricane) landfall in Cuba is Hurricane 'Dennis' in 2005," meteorologist Philip Klotzbach said.
At 02:00 UTC on July 6, Elsa emerged into the Gulf of Mexico and began to re-strengthen.
The hardest-hit areas by this storm are Barbados, where more than 1 100 homes were damaged, including 62 that collapsed; St. Lucia, where one person was killed; the Dominican Republic, where two people died after walls collapsed on them; and Haiti, where three people were injured by downed trees.
The center of Elsa made landfall in Taylor County along the northern Florida Gulf Coast at 15:00 UTC on July 7 with maximum sustained winds of 100 km/h (65 mph) and minimum central pressure of 999 hPa.
The storm produced over 250 mm (10 inches) of rain along the west coast of Florida and wind gusts up to 110 km/h (70 mph) in the Florida Keys.
At least one person was killed after strong winds downed a tree on a pair of cars in Jacksonville, FL.
A possible tornado touched down at a park for recreational vehicles at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Camden County, Georgia.
"There are reports of multiple injuries and damage to multiple recreational vehicles in the base RV park, and also reports of damage to buildings and structures on the installation," base officials said. As many as 10 people have been injured.
The crew of Good Samaritans and the U.S. Coast Guard performed water rescues to save the lives of 13 people after a cargo vessel carrying 22 people capsized. The other nine people are still missing.
On the forecast track, Elsa will move over South Carolina and North Carolina today, pass near the eastern mid-Atlantic states by tonight, and move near or over the northeastern United States on Friday and Friday night, July 9.
The system should move over Atlantic Canada by Friday night and Saturday.
Featured image: Tropical Storm "Elsa" at 12:00 UTC on July 7, 2021. Credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, RAMMB/CIRA, TW
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