PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the Florida Keys from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas as Tropical Storm Elsa began slowing down and weakening Saturday evening as it passes between Haiti and Jamaica.
The Hurricane Warning for the southern portion of Haiti from Port Au Prince to the southern border with the Dominican Republic has been replaced with a Tropical Storm Warning.
The Tropical Storm Warning for Haiti north of Port Au Prince has been discontinued.
As expected, the storm weakened slightly earlier in the day, moving from a hurricane to a tropical storm.
Parts of South Florida remain inside Elsa’s forecast cone, and residents should keep a close eye on the storm’s track over the weekend.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Saturday, issuing a state of emergency in several counties, including Miami-Dade and Monroe, due to the threat of Elsa.
“While we continue to provide resources to support the response at Surfside, impacts from Elsa will begin affecting the Florida Keys and portions of southern Florida as early as Monday,” he said. “All Floridians in the potential path of this storm need to prepare for the risk of isolated tornadoes, storm surge, heavy rainfall and flash flooding.”
As of 11 p.m. Saturday, Tropical Storm Elsa was located about 175 miles east southeast of Montego Bay, Jamaica, according to the National Hurricane Center.
It’s moving to the west-northwest at 17 mph and has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
Tropical Storm Elsa is forecast to move near Jamaica and portions of eastern Cuba on Sunday.
By Monday, Elsa is forecast to move across central and western Cuba and then head toward Florida.
According to the NHC, Elsa is expected to continue slowing down on Saturday and Sunday, followed by a turn toward the northwest Sunday night or Monday.
Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record, beating out last year’s Eduardo which formed on July 6, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. He also noted that it’s the farthest east that a hurricane has formed this early in the tropical Atlantic since 1933. The 1991-2020 average date for the first Atlantic hurricane formation is mid-August.