Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to form in the Atlantic; U.S. impacts are uncertain

  • If the sustained winds in the system reach 39 mph, it would be called Tropical Storm Elsa.
  • It is too early to say if the system will have an impact on the United States.
  • If Elsa does form, it would be the fifth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

South Florida condominium collapse rescue and recovery teams are closely monitoring two tropical waves in the Atlantic Ocean, but it’s unclear at this time whether either will pose a direct threat to the United States.

While one is not expected to become anything substantial, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center have said the other will become Tropical Storm Elsa in the coming days.

Tropical storm watches have been lifted for several Caribbean islands, the hurricane center said Wednesday afternoon. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area, usually within 48 hours.

AccuWeather senior meteorologist Rob Miller said “this disturbance is likely to develop as it enters and travels across the Caribbean.”

If the system holds up, it is expected to drift west-northwest over the open waters of the Caribbean Sea from Saturday to Monday, potentially entering the Gulf of Mexico around Tuesday.

It is too early to say if the system will have an impact on the United States, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore. This includes South Florida, where Surfside rescuers continue to dig through the rubble of the collapsed Champlain Towers condominium.

Rescuers there are already faced with almost daily episodes of thunderstorms and lightning, which force rescue efforts to be temporarily suspended.

“Interests in Florida should watch for updates to the forecasts for this system, but it is too early to determine if any impacts could occur there next week given the uncertainty of the long-term forecast,” said the hurricane center.

Active hurricane season expected – again

Once Elsa is formed, it will be the fifth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, following tropical storms Ana, Bill, Claudette and Danny.

The formation of one or two named tropical systems is not very unusual in late June, AccuWeather said, but on average, the second named storm doesn’t prepare until early August, according to the National Hurricane Center. Having four of these systems by the end of June is teetering on record territory.

The average formation date of the fourth named storm is August 23, and for the fifth storm, the average formation date is August 31.

Names of hurricanes:From Ana to Wanda, here is the list of names of tropical storms and hurricanes for 2021

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was the busiest on record with 30 named storms that required the use of the Greek alphabet, once the name and letter “W” on the list were exhausted, AccuWeather said.

The federal government expects another active Atlantic hurricane season in 2021: six to ten hurricanes could form, forecasters said in May.

The season started on June 1 and ends on November 30. An average season typically generates seven hurricanes and peaks in August and September. If forecasts hold true, it will be a sixth consecutive record year for above-normal activity.

Contribution: Cheryl McCloud, USA TODAY Network; The Associated Press

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