Tropical Storm Elsa strengthened into a hurricane early Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced, becoming the first hurricane of the 2021 season in the Atlantic Ocean as the storm batters the Caribbean and heads toward Florida.
Forecasters said Elsa is moving quickly toward the west-northwest at 28 mph. The storm is expected to continue to move fast over the next few days.
On the forecast track, the National Hurricane Center said Elsa will pass near or over portions of the Windward Islands or the southern Leeward Islands on Friday morning.
It will then move across the eastern Caribbean Sea late Friday and move near the southern coast of Hispaniola on Saturday.
Hurricane warnings are now in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with tropical storm warnings in effect for parts of the Dominican Republic, the coast of Haiti and Martinique.
A hurricane watch is in effect for southern Haiti and a tropical storm watch is in effect for Grenada and its dependencies, Jamaica, Dominica, Saba and Sint Eustatius.
The NHC reported at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time the areas under hurricane warnings will see hurricane conditions in the next few hours, with the storm projected to produce rainfall totals of approximately three to six inches, though some areas like Barbados could get as much as 10 inches of rain.
Puerto Rico may also get up to five inches of rain in some areas, while southern Hispaniola and Jamaica could see potentially up to 12 inches of rain over the weekend from Saturday into Sunday.
The Category 1 storm now has maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, the NHC reports.
The Associated Press reports officials in St. Vincent have encouraged some residents to evacuate in light of the hurricane, which could potentially cause flash flooding and mudslides.
Trinidad and Tobago is expected to receive the feeder bands of this storm