MIAMI, Fla. — Elsa has strengthened into a hurricane, the first of the 2021 Atlantic season.
The National Hurricane Center announced that the storm had become a Category 1 hurricane shortly before 8 a.m. Friday as sustained winds reached 74 mph with gusts around 86 mph near Barbados.
In an advisory, the NHC said hurricane conditions are being expected in the hurricane warning area in the Windward Islands on Friday, and tropical storm conditions are expected in other portions of the Windward and Leeward Islands.
Officials say heavy rainfall from Elsa will move quickly across the Windward and southern Leeward Islands on Friday, including Barbados.
“Outer rain bands will impact Puerto Rico late today into Saturday, and southern Hispaniola and Jamaica Saturday into Sunday. Flooding and mudslides are possible,” wrote the NHC.
Hurricane conditions are expected in the hurricane warning area in Haiti on Saturday, with tropical storm conditions expected and hurricane conditions possible along the southern coast of the Dominican Republic and in Jamaica, the NHC said.
The NHC says there is an increasing risk of strong winds, storm surge, and rainfall in portions of Cuba this weekend and early next week, with impacts also possible in the Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas.
As for Florida, the NHC said there is a risk of storm surge, wind, and rainfall in the Florida Keys and other portions of the state early next week.
“However, the forecast uncertainty remains larger than usual due to Elsa’s potential interaction with the Greater Antilles this weekend. Interests in Florida should monitor Elsa’s progress and updates to the forecast,” said the NHC.