As confidence grows in Tropical Storm Elsa’s forecast track, there are still questions about how strong it will be. That depends on how much time Elsa spends over Cuba today.
Meteorologist Tony Sadiku says Elsa remains a modest tropical storm this morning as it approaches Jamaica and Cuba. The latest forecast shows limited weakening and maybe some strengthening over the next 24 hours, despite land interaction.
Impacts to Florida will Tampa Bay area impacts will come likely as early as Monday.
Tropical Storm Elsa Discussion Number 17
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL052021
1100 AM EDT Sun Jul 04 2021
A NOAA P-3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft has been investigating Elsa this morning. Flight-level and SFMR surface observations from the aircraft indicate that the maximum winds are near 50 kt and the estimated central pressure, about 1009 mb, is rather high for a system of this intensity. Also, tail Doppler radar data from the aircraft show an eastward tilt of the center with height.
Nonetheless, the storm still looks fairly impressive on satellite images with a well-defined convective banding feature over the northern through eastern portions of the circulation. Also, the highest cloud tops are quite cold and near -70C.
Elsa’s forward speed has slowed a little more, and the current motion is around 290/11 kt. There hasn’t been much change to the track forecast or reasoning since the previous advisory. Over the next few days, the tropical cyclone should move around the western periphery of the subtropical ridge. The NHC forecast track is similar to the previous official forecast, and close to the model consensus. The latest GFS and HWRF solutions are to the west of this forecast.
Elsa should remain in a low-shear environment through Monday, and some strengthening is likely before the storm reaches Cuba, assuming the circulation becomes better aligned vertically. The storm should weaken somewhat due to its passage over Cuba. After the cyclone emerges into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, only slight restrengthening is forecast due to moderate southwesterly shear. The official intensity forecast is on the high end of the numerical intensity guidance suite.