First hurricane of season forms

HOLT, Fla., July 2, 2021—The season’s first hurricane formed this morning as Tropical Storm Elsa strengthened just east of Barbados.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to 75 mph with higher gusts. Little change in strength is forecast during the next 48 hours.

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft mission is in progress and should provide a better estimate of Elsa’s intensity and structure, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A NOAA aircraft is scheduled for this afternoon.

The degree of land and interaction with the mountainous islands of Hispaniola and Cuba will be a big factor in the future strength of Elsa at days four and five, according to the NHC.

According to the hurricane center, there is a large spread among the different weather models, ranging from dissipation in the Caribbean to a category 3 hurricane, making it difficult to forecast the storm track and intensity.

The average NHC track error is 175 miles at day four and 200 miles at day 5, a larger-than-normal uncertainty, according to the hurricane center. 

Storm hazards will extend well away from the center of the storm, and attention shouldn’t be focused solely on the center of the track, the NHC cautions.

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