Elsa strengthens into first hurricane of the Atlantic season
HOUSTON - Elsa strengthened to a hurricane on Friday morning, becoming the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season.
It brought sustained winds of 75 miles per hour to southern Barbados with a measured wind gust of 86 miles per hour.
The Category 1 storm was located about 20 miles west-southwest of Barbados and about 95 miles east of St. Vincent. It was moving west-northwest at 28 mph.
At this time, there are no direct impacts expected for Texas. The majority of the reliable computer models keep this system in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, a concern for Florida at the start of next week.
For the latest updates on the tropics, you can download the free FOX 26 Weather App where you can keep a close eye on the latest developments.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Authorities opened dozens of shelters in St. Vincent and urged people to evacuate if they lived near a valley, given the threat of flash flooding, mudslides and lahars, especially in the northern part of the island where La Soufrière volcano is located.
"They will move anything within its path," said St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. "Do not wait until it’s too late to go to a shelter."
He said 94 shelters are open, adding that it’s a smaller number than in previous years because some 2,000 people remain in other shelters following massive volcanic eruptions that began in early April.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the southern coast of Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the border with Haiti and the entire coast of Haiti. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Grenada, Saba, Sint Eustatius and Jamaica, while a hurricane watch was in effect for Haiti’s southern region from the capital, Port-au-Prince, to the southern border with the Dominican Republic.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.