Elsa becomes the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season: The National Hurricane Center (NHC) upgraded Elsa at 8:30 AM EDT to hurricane status based on surface observations from Barbados. Elsa is a Category 1 hurricane and is forecast to maintain this strength over the next 48 hours.
Current Impacts: Elsa is currently bringing hurricane conditions to parts of the Windward Islands. Hurricane warnings have been issued for St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Revised Forecast: Elsa is expected to emerge into the Eastern Caribbean Sea as a hurricane later today after crossing the Windward Islands and is likely to bring hurricane impacts to parts of the Greater Antilles over the weekend. The potential for Elsa to maintain hurricane while entering the Gulf of Mexico early next week is being projected by an increasing number of weather models.
What is Next?
Expected Impacts in the Caribbean: Hurricane Warnings have been issued for the southern coasts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Jamaica, and Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for Martinique, Dominica, Jamaica, and northern Haiti. Interests in Hispaniola, Jamaica, The Cayman Islands and Cuba should monitor the forecast for possible impacts from Saturday through Monday.
Additional Strengthening? While current model guidance and the official NHC forecast do not call for significant strengthening, the possibility of Elsa reaching major hurricane status over the weekend cannot be ruled out. Yesterday, only one hurricane model correctly forecasted Elsa to reach hurricane status today. That same model forecasts major hurricane status by the end of the weekend.
Record Forward Speed: The likelihood of intensifying to a major hurricane is marginally low given the record breaking rapid forward speed of Elsa. At a forward motion of 29 mph, this sets a record for forward speed in the Eastern Caribbean Sea by at least 5 mph.
Current visible satellite image of Hurricane Elsa. Source: Tropical Tidbits.
Intensity forecast from yesterday highlighting the stronger intensity verification of Elsa today (red dot) relative to weather model projections. Source: Tropical Tidbits.
Current sea surface temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic basin, indicating the near average ocean temperatures that Elsa is likely to encounter as it moves into the Caribbean Sea. Source: Tropical Tidbits.
Guy Carpenter experts will continue to monitor Hurricane Elsa through the holiday weekend. A new update will be issued over the weekend if Category 2 or higher winds are forecast to impact any interests in the Caribbean or if hurricane landfall is expected along the United States next week.
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