Probability of storm winds from Hurricane Elsa
Elsa weakened to tropical storm strength, but continued plowing towards Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Saturday, a day after reaching the Caribbean island states of Barbados and St. Vincent.
The long-term forecast showed it was heading for Florida as a tropical storm by Tuesday morning, but some models would carry it into the Gulf or up the Atlantic coast.
Florida officials have also warned that the possible effects of winds could hamper search and rescue operations at the collapsed Surfside, Florida residential complex.
“Our contingency management department expects this to happen and is making the necessary preparations to protect a large part of the equipment. They could possibly host an event with the building, ”said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava signed a local state of emergency on Saturday that will allow the county to mobilize resources if needed while search and rescue operations continue in the rubble of a partially collapsed 12-story residential complex.
“The path is still very uncertain, but we continue to monitor closely and if there is a potential impact on Miami-Dade, we are ready,” said Cava during a press conference.
The Category 1 storm was located about 40 miles southeast of Island Beta in the Dominican Republic and was moving 29 miles per hour from west to northwest at 11 a.m. EST on Saturday, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC). The agency reported maximum sustained winds of 70 mph as the tropical storm, which had been a Category 1 hurricane the previous Saturday, weakened as it approached Hispaniola and Cuba.
The NHC warned that conditions would likely deteriorate in the coming hours. Elsa’s forward speed was expected to decrease later on Saturday, while the maximum wind speeds would stay about the same through Sunday or Monday.
DeSantis told reporters on Saturday the state was preparing for a large tropical storm that includes isolated tornadoes, storm surges, heavy rains and flash floods.
“We hope the storm doesn’t have much runway to gain that speed and strength before it hits our peninsula,” he added.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.