Parts of Florida could feel impacts early this week from Tropical Storm Elsa, which was lashing the Caribbean with heavy rain and strong winds on Sunday.
Elsa, which was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane Saturday, was located 50 miles north of Kingston, Jamaica, as of 11 a.m. Sunday. The storm was moving west, northwest at 13 mph with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph.
Tropical storm-force winds, which range from 39 mph to 73 mph, extend 115 miles from the storm’s center.
“On the forecast track, Elsa will continue to move near Jamaica and portions of eastern Cuba today, and approach central Cuba tonight and early Monday,” the National Hurricane Center says. “Elsa is expected to move across central and western Cuba and head toward the Florida Straits on Monday and pass near the Florida Keys late Monday.”
The storm is then expected to track “near or over” parts of the west coast of Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Sunday, the NHC issued a tropical storm warning for the Florida Keys from ”Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas.” The Florida Keys from “Craig Key eastward to Ocean Reef, including Florida Bay” and the southwest coast of Florida from “Flamingo northward to Bonita Beach” are under a tropical storm watch.
Forecasters say additional watches and warnings will likely be necessary Sunday and that “interests elsewhere in the Florida peninsula should monitor the progress of Elsa.”
A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the area and a tropical storm watch means they are possible within the area.
Forecasters say tropical storm conditions are expected in the warning area in the Florida Keys by late Monday and in the upper Florida Keys and southwest coast of Florida by Monday night.
Tropical storm-force winds could reach Florida as early as Monday morning, its track shows.
The Georgia and North and South Carolina coasts could see tropical storm conditions Wednesday and Thursday.
Elsa could dump between 4 and 8 inches of rain on parts of Haiti and Jamaica, with up to 15 inches possible in isolated areas, forecasters say. Parts of Cuba could see between 5 and 10 inches of rain and the Cayman Islands could get between 3 and 5 inches into Monday.
“Rainfall from Elsa will impact portions of the Florida Keys and Florida Peninsula Monday through Wednesday,” the hurricane center says.
Between 2 and 4 inches are expected, with up to 6 inches possible in some areas. Flash, urban and minor river flooding are possible, forecasters say.
Storm surge is also possible in areas under watches and warnings, with between 1 and 2 feet possible from Ocean Reef, Florida, to Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay. Between 1 and 3 feet are possible from Bonita Beach, Florida, to Flamingo, Florida.
Elsa is expected to weaken Monday as it moves over Cuba.
“After Elsa emerges over the Florida Straits and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, some slight restrengthening is possible.