Tropical Storm Elsa could bring strong winds and heavy rain to the Carolinas later this week.
Elsa, which was downgraded from a hurricane on Saturday, was located 50 miles north of Kingston, Jamaica, as of 11 a.m. Sunday. It 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 its current track, Elsa could bring tropical storm conditions — including storm surge and rainfall — to the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina on Wednesday and Thursday, the National Hurricane Center says.
Tropical-storm-force winds could reach the South Carolina coast as early as 8 a.m. Wednesday and the North Carolina later that day, Elsa’s track shows.
But the forecast remains uncertain Sunday due to the storm’s “potential interaction with Cuba,” the NHC says.
“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 NHC 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.”
It’s then expected to move “near or over” parts of the west coast of Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Elsa is forecast to gradually weaken as it moves over Cuba on Monday. But “slight restrengthening” is possible after it “emerges over the Florida Straits and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.”
Local National Weather Service offices along the North and South Carolina coasts say it’s still too early to determine Elsa’s exact impacts. But the NWS’s Wilmington office says that “at a minimum, tropical moisture” could bring “occasionally heavy rain” Wednesday and Thursday and that rip currents could be strong by mid-week.
As of Sunday, there’s a moderate to high risk of rip currents along much of the North Carolina coast and parts of the South Carolina coast. The Wilmington office says strong rip currents associated with Elsa are possible Wednesday through Thursday.
“Remember, it’s never too early to prepare, in case a storm (becomes) stronger than forecast, it’s best not to let your guard down, the National Weather service says.