ORLANDO, Fla. – Elsa has downgraded to a tropical storm.
Heavy rains and winds lashed Barbados as the storm moved through the Lesser Antilles Friday, racing closer to Hispaniola and Cuba.
As of 11 p.m. Saturday, Elsa was 175 miles east-southeast of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and moving west-northwest at 17 mph. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s latest advisory, Elsa will move near the southwestern peninsula of Haiti over the next few hours, and then move near Jamaica and portions of eastern Cuba on Sunday.
By Monday, Elsa is expected to move across central and western Cuba and head toward the Florida Straits, forecasters said. Elsa is then forecast to move near or over portions of the west coast of Florida on Tuesday, according to the NHC.
Although most of Florida is in Elsa’s projected path, Elsa’s direction early next week remains uncertain. The storm is expected to gradually turn north late in the weekend.
If the storm rides along the southern and western edge of the forecast cone, a stronger storm will be expected as it emerges north of Cuba Monday morning and into the Florida Straits.
Any impacts to Central Florida would happen Tuesday and early Wednesday. Local impacts, if any, will become clearer Sunday and Monday after Elsa’s potential interaction with land.
Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record, beating out last year’s Eduardo, which formed on July 6.