Elsa strengthened to become the Atlantic’s first hurricane on Friday. It blew off roofs in the eastern Caribbean and snapped trees. Officials closed schools, businesses, and airports. It seemed to be heading towards Florida eventually.
Barbados’ first hurricane in over 60 years is Category 1. It unleashed heavy rains on Barbados and St. Vincent and Grenadines. They are still recovering from massive volcanic eruptions.
Elsa was located 580 miles (935 km) east-southeast from Santo Domingo. It was moving west-northwest with 29 mph (46 KPH) as it strengthened. According to the National Hurricane Center, Elsa sustained maximum winds of 85 mph (135 kph).
Ralph Gonsalves, St. Vincent Prime Minister, stated that sustained winds can cause significant damage and blow down buildings. “I plead with you. This hurricane is not something to be taken lightly. This is not the right time to fool around.
It was forecast to move towards Florida as a tropical hurricane by Tuesday morning. However, some models predicted it would make it into the Gulf and up the Atlantic Coast.
Barbados authorities reported receiving calls from families about their homes being trapped, the collapse of their houses, and power and water cuts. However, there were no reports of any serious injuries or deaths. Wilfred Abrahams (minister of home affairs and information, public affairs) urged Barbados residents to offer their homes to anyone in need.
He said, “We are receiving a lot of damage reports.”
From the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, to Punta Palenque (Dominican Republic), a hurricane warning was in place. Jamaica was under hurricane watch
The track forecast showed that the storm was moving quickly towards Hispaniola, an island shared by Haiti, and Dominican Republic as a hurricane, before passing Cuba and weakening to tropical storm force.
Authorities set up shelters throughout St. Vincent, and advised residents to evacuate any valleys near them, due to the risk of flooding, mudslides, and flash flooding. This was especially true in the northern region of the island, where La Soufriere volcano lies.
Gonsalves stated that 94 shelters were open. This is a decrease in number than previous years, as some 2,000 people are still in shelters after the massive volcanic eruptions in April.
Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University hurricane researcher, said Elsa is the fifth-earliest named storm to be recorded. He beat Eduardo on July 6. He also pointed out that Elsa is the first hurricane to form in the tropical Atlantic that has been so far east since 1933. Mid-August is the average date of Atlantic hurricane formation between 1991 and 2020.
Forecasters predicted that the storm would bring between 4 and 8 inches (10 to 20 cmimeters), with maximum rainfall of 15 inches (38 cmimeters), Friday across the Windward Islands. Rainstorms could cause flash flooding or mudslides in isolated areas.