Tracking the Tropics: Tropical Storm Elsa forms in the Atlantic, could hit South Florida next week

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tropical Storm Elsa, the fifth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, formed Thursday morning hundreds of miles off the Windward Islands, the National Hurricane Center said.

At 8 a.m., the storm was centered about 780 miles east-southeast of the island group. It had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, with tropical storm-force winds extending outward up to 105 miles from the storm’s center. The system was moving west at 25 mph, the hurricane center said.

The storm is forecast to strengthen as it moves into the eastern Caribbean Sea and toward the southern coast of Hispaniola Friday and Saturday.

The forecast path shows Elsa arriving in South Florida early Tuesday with winds of 65 mph, but that is subject to change.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Barbados, Martinique, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while Guadeloupe and Grenada are under a Tropical Storm Watch. Tropical storm conditions will be felt within the warning area in the next 36 hours, and are possible within the watch area, the hurricane center said.

The storm could produce between 3 to 6 inches of rain across the Windward and southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados. Forecasters say the rain could lead to isolated flash flooding and mudslides.

Elsa is the earliest-known fifth named storm on record for the Atlantic basin in the satellite era, breaking the record formerly held by Edouard on July 6, 2020, the hurricane center said.

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