The North and South Carolina coasts are expected to see impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa later this week.
Elsa, which was downgraded from a hurricane over the weekend, was located 20 miles east, southeast of Cayo Largo, Cuba, and 140 miles south, southeast of Havana, Cuba, as of 11 a.m. Monday. The storm was moving northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
Tropical storm-force winds, which range from 39 mph to 73 mph, extend up to 70 miles from the storm’s center.
Coastal North Carolina and South Carolina could see tropical storm conditions — including strong wind, rain, flooding and storm surge — on Wednesday and Thursday if the storm continues on its current path.
Tropical storm-force winds could reach South Carolina as early as 8 a.m. Wednesday and North Carolina as early as 8 p.m. Wednesday, the forecast shows. The National Weather Service’s Wilmington Office says winds up to 45 mph are expected over southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina.
Elsa could dump between 1 and 3 inches of rain along the North and South Carolina coasts, with up to 5 inches possible in some areas, starting Wednesday and into Thursday. The rain could cause isolated flash and urban floods.
Isolated severe storms and tornadoes are also possible, the NWS’s Morehead/Newport office says.
“Periods of torrential rain, isolated tornadoes and gusty winds will be the primary threats,” the NWS says.
Large waves and strong rip currents are also possible this week, forecasters say. As of Monday, there’s a moderate risk of rip currents along much of the North and South Carolina coasts, but forecasters say strong rip currents are possible Tuesday through Thursday in some areas.
The National Hurricane Center hasn’t issued any watches or warnings for the Carolinas as of 8 a.m. Monday. But forecasters say additional advisories will likely be required today and that “interests” in the coastal Carolinas should monitor Elsa’s progress.
“On the forecast track, Elsa is expected to move across central and western Cuba later today and pass near the Florida Keys early Tuesday,” the NHC says. “Elsa is then forecast to move near or over portions of the west coast of Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Elsa is expected to weaken as it moves over parts of Cuba on Monday. But slight restrengthening is possible as the storm moves over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.
“After Elsa clears Florida, it is expected to move faster north-northeastward across coastal Georgia and the Carolinas Wednesday and Thursday before moving over the western Atlantic,” the NHC said in its 8 a.m. update.
The NWS’s Morehead/Newport office says residents and visitors in the storm’s path should “pay close attention to the forecast over the coming days” and that “now is the time to check your hurricane plan and supplies.”