Elsa's winds strengthened to 75 mph in the morning as it swept over Barbados as a Category 1 storm, the National Hurricane Center announced. The storm is set to arrive over the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines later in the day.
#Elsa has strengthened into a hurricane. A sustained wind of 74 mph with a gust to 86 mph was recently reported at Barbados. A special advisory is being issued shortly. More info: https://t.co/tW4KeFW0gB pic.twitter.com/oQ8aCP7mEv
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) July 2, 2021
“That level of sustained wind can blow down a lot of buildings and cause a lot of damage,” said St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. “I am pleading with you. Let us not take this hurricane lightly. This is not the time to play the fool.”
The National Hurricane Center issued warnings for St. Lucia in addition to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Tropical storm warnings were noted in Martinique and the Dominican Republic, while tropical storm watches were in effect in Grenada, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Dominica, and Jamaica.
The storm is eventually projected to make its way into Florida between July 5 and 6. Heavy winds and rainfall could complicate rescue efforts at the pile of rubble where part of Champlain Towers South once stood in Miami-Dade County.
(National Hurricane Center)
Eighteen people, including two children, have been found dead since the building partially collapsed on June 24. Rescue efforts were paused temporarily due to safety concerns, though they resumed as authorities scramble to locate 145 people believed to be trapped beneath the rubble.
"While we continue to support Surfside and monitor ongoing search efforts, we are also preparing for potential effects from Tropical Storm #Elsa," wrote Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in a tweet Friday. "@NHC_Atlantic predicts this storm could impact Florida early next week. Please follow @FLSERT for developments over the coming days."
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Original Author: Jake Dima
Original Location: Elsa strengthens into first hurricane of Atlantic season off Florida