Hurricane Elsa bears down on the Caribbean

July 2, 2021, 3:49 PM UTC

Hurricane Elsa remained a category 1 storm Friday mid-morning and is on pace to hit the Caribbean this weekend.

The National Hurricane Center has posted hurricane warnings for St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, and southern portions of Haiti, including Port-au-Prince. The government of Jamaica, meanwhile, has issued a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning for that country.

Elsa, as of 11:00 a.m. ET, had sustained winds of 75 mph and was moving WNW at 29 mph. It’s expected, at present, to continue on its current path and not lose strength over the next 48 hours. By Sunday, it’s forecast to move near Jamaica and portions of eastern Cuba.

Hurricane-force winds currently extend 25 miles outside of the eye of the storm, which is expected to produce rainfall amounts of up to eight inches.

The current projected path of the storm indicates it will begin to impact the U.S. early Tuesday and through Wednesday. Long-term modeling of hurricanes is an inexact science, though, so it’s unclear if it will enter the Gulf of Mexico, slam into Florida directly, or travel along the Eastern Seaboard.

Early-summer tropical events historically tend to be less powerful than those later in the season, but they do underscore the threat of hurricanes along the Eastern Seaboard.

In 2019, hurricanes caused $136 billion in damages. Contrary to expectations, last year was a relatively sedate season, with over $51 billion in damages. A major hurricane (or more) could be especially costly this year, though, given the recent record prices for lumber and the ongoing real estate crunch. Repairs could take longer and will be much more expensive for homeowners and insurance companies.

Meanwhile, experts say the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is going to be more active than usual, according to an outlook released Thursday by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

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