Elsa turns into season’s 1st hurricane in Caribbean

from: via Nexstar Media Wire, The Associated Press

Posted: 07/02/2021 / 10:26 AM CDT
Updated: 07/02/2021 / 10:26 AM CDT

This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Elsa moving through the Caribbean over Barbados at 12:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m. ET) Tuesday, July 2, 2021. (NOAA / NESDIS / STAR GOES via AP)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Elsa intensified into the first hurricane of the Atlantic season on Friday as it struck the eastern Caribbean, where officials appeared to be closing schools, businesses and airports and eventually heading for Florida or the US Gulf Coast.

Heavy rains and winds lashed Barbados as the Category 1 storm headed for islands like St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which are struggling to recover from recent massive volcanic eruptions.

Elsa was about 120 kilometers east of St. Vincent and moving at 44 km / h from west to northwest. It had maximum sustained winds of 120 km / h, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

“These persistent winds can bring down many buildings and do a lot of damage,” said St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. “I beg you. Let’s not take this hurricane lightly. This is not the time to play the fool. “

A hurricane warning was issued for Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The long-term history showed that the storm rolled towards the Dominican Republic and Haiti as a hurricane before weakening again to the strength of a tropical storm and possibly heading towards Florida by Tuesday morning.

Authorities opened dozens of shelters in St. Vincent and urged people to evacuate if they lived near a valley due to the threat of flash floods, mudslides and lahars, especially in the northern part of the island, where La Volcano is located Soufriere is located.

“Don’t wait until it’s too late to go to a shelter,” said Gonsalves.

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He said 94 shelters are open, a lower number than in previous years as around 2,000 people are staying in other shelters after massive volcanic eruptions that began in early April.

A tropical storm warning was issued for Martinique, the south coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the border with Haiti and the entire coast of Haiti. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Grenada, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Dominica and Jamaica, while a hurricane watch was in effect in Haiti’s southern region from the capital Port-au-Prince to the southern border with the Dominican Republic.

According to Colorado State University’s hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach, Elsa is the earliest, fifth-name storm ever recorded, defeating last year’s Eduardo, which formed on July 6th.

Elsa was due to pass near the south coast of Hispaniola on Saturday, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The storm should then move closer to Jamaica and parts of eastern Cuba on Sunday.

The storm on Friday was forecast to bring 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 centimeters) of rain over the Windward and southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados, with a maximum total of 10 inches (25 centimeters) inches. The rain could trigger isolated flash floods and mudslides.

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