ORLANDO, Fla. – Tropical Storm Elsa has moved past Cuba and is expected to move near the Florida Keys on Tuesday.
By 11 p.m. Monday, Elsa’s maximum sustained winds had jumped back to 60 mph (85 kph). Its core was about 20 miles (75 kilometers) north-northeast of Havana and moving to the northwest at 12 mph (22 kph).
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 15 counties, including in Miami-Dade County, where a high-rise condominium building collapsed last week.
A tropical storm watch has been issued for Lake, Marion and Sumter counties, meaning tropical storm conditions are possible in the area.
“After Elsa emerges over the Florida Straits and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, some slight re-strengthening is possible,” the NHC said.
Rain fell intermittently in Cuba’s eastern provinces throughout Sunday as the storm passed by to the south.
“So far it’s a soft, serene rain. There are no downpours. The streets are not overflowing,” Yolanda Tabio, a 73-year-old retiree living in Santiago, told The Associated Press. “I thought it could be worse.”
Rafael Carmenate, a volunteer for the local Red Cross who lives facing the beach in Santa Cruz del Sur, told the AP by telephone: “We have a little water -- showers. The sea has not intruded. It’s cloudy and gusty,”
The storm killed one person on St. Lucia, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. A 15-year-old boy and a 75-year-old woman died Saturday in separate events in the Dominican Republic after walls collapsed on them, according to a statement from the Emergency Operations Center.
Elsa was a Category 1 hurricane until Saturday morning, causing widespread damage on several eastern Caribbean islands Friday as the first hurricane of the Atlantic season. Among the hardest hit was Barbados, where more than 1,100 people reported damaged houses, including 62 homes that collapsed.
Downed trees also were reported in Haiti, which is especially vulnerable to floods and landslides because of widespread erosion and deforestation. Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency said Sunday that three people had been injured by downed trees.
The Tropical Storm warning along the Florida west coast has been extended northward and westward to the Ochlockonee River.
Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record and also broke the record as the tropic’s fastest-moving hurricane, clocking in at 31 mph Saturday morning, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.