Miami, Jul 4 (EFE).- Jamaica and eastern Cuba should be the next locations to feel the power of Tropical Storm Elsa, whose winds have slackened to 65 miles per hour after the storm passed over southwestern Haiti and the southern Dominican Republic.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported at 8 am on Sunday that the center of Elsa is located 45 miles east-northeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and about 145 miles southeast of Cabo Cruz, Cuba.
Elsa is moving west-northwest at about 13 mph and is expected to make a turn to the northwest Sunday night or Monday.
If it continues to follow its predicted storm track, Elsa should continue moving toward Jamaica and eastern Cuba.
On Sunday night, the storm will be over central Cuba and on Monday the forecast is that it will be moving over central and western Cuba and then head into the Florida Strait.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the NHC is predicting that Elsa will be moving near or over portions of Florida’s west coast.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds at present are around 65 mph with stronger gusts.
It is possible that the wind speed will strengthen a bit as Elsa approaches the south-central Cuban coast. However, later the storm should weaken gradually as it passes over Cuba.
Once it is over the Florida Strait and the southeastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico, however, it is possible that the wind speed will once again increase slightly.
The tropical storm force winds currently extend up to 125 miles from Elsa’s center.
So far, three fatalities have been reported from the storm as Elsa passed over the eastern Caribbean, two of them in the Dominican Republic and one on the island of St. Lucia.
Cuban authorities have placed the entire national territory on alerts of varying intensity pending the arrival of Elsa, with the central provinces of Sancti Spiritus, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and the western province of Matanzas being added to the eastern provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Holguin, Las Tunas, Camaguey and Ciego de Avila, which were placed on “alarm” alert on Saturday, although the westernmost parts of the island have not yet been put into that category.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared an emergency in the counties of Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota.
In Miami-Dade County, Elsa’s presence in the Caribbean has forced local authorities to accelerate their plans to demolish the rest of a partially collapsed 12-story condo building. The storm could also cause operations to search for victims in the huge rubble pile to be postponed.
At least 24 bodies have been pulled from the wreckage and another 124 are missing in the building collapse, which occurred at 1:30 am on June 24 in the coastal municipality of Surfside.
Throughout the region, including along Elsa’s predicted storm track, authorities have issued assorted weather alerts due to the storm’s expected heavy rains, high winds and storm surge.
The tropical storm at one point increased in intensity to a Category 1 hurricane but it weakened over Saturday/Sunday night and is presently once more a tropical storm.
So far this storm season, there have been four tropical storms: Ana, Bill, Claudette and Danny.
Meteorologists calculate that this year’s storm season will produce a greater-than-normal number of named storms although it will not break the record set in 2020.