July 28, 2021

Tropical Storm Elsa is approaching central Cuba and heading towards Florida

After leaving at least three dead in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Elsa advances this Monday towards the central coast of Cuba, with a view to heading south Florida at night, dumping heavy rains.

In its 2:00 pm (local East Coast time) report, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) reported that Elsa was about 85 miles (140 km) southeast of Havana. It was moving at 14 miles per hour (22 km / h) to the northwest, with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (95 km / h).

Experts estimate that it will traverse the island overnight on Monday, leaving between 5 and 10 inches of rain, and up to 15 inches in specific areas. This will cause major flash floods and landslides. It is not ruled out either that the sea level rises, which could affect populations.

Florida is Elsa’s next destination. Governor Ron DeSantis declared the state of emergency in 15 counties, including Miami-Dade, where a tragic building collapse occurred in Surfside on June 24.

Total, more than eight million people are at risk of heavy rains and winds in Florida.

The National Weather Service of the United States reported that there can be occasional floods and between one or two tornadoes in this state.

A man loads a truck with furniture to be relocated before the arrival of Storm Elsa, in Havana, Cuba, on July 4, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Thousands of evacuees

Cuban authorities evacuated Sunday 180,000 people as a precaution against the possibility of heavy flooding. Most of the evacuees stayed with relatives, others went to government shelters, and hundreds who live in mountainous areas took shelter in caves prepared for emergencies.

The Cuban Government also issued a hurricane warning for the provinces of Cienfuegos and Matanzas and a hurricane watch for Camagüey.

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The NHC noted that the storm was likely to gradually weaken as it passed through central Cuba, although possibly it will strengthen over the Straits of Florida and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, the NHC issued a tropical storm watch off the west coast of Florida, from Englewood to Aucilla Rivers. And there is still one in effect for the Florida Keys, from Craig Key west to the Ocean Reef.

Probable path of tropical storm Elsa.NHC/NOAA

As a Category 1 hurricane as of Saturday morning, Elsa caused widespread damage to several islands in the eastern Caribbean. It was the first hurricane of the Atlantic season. In Barbados, one of the hardest hit islands, more than 1,100 people reported damage to their homes, including 62 houses that collapsed.

Downed trees were also recorded in Haiti, which is especially vulnerable to flooding and landslides due to widespread erosion and deforestation.

Elsa is the fifth earliest storm on record and has also broken the record for the fastest hurricane in the tropics, with a speed of 31 mph on Saturday morning, warned Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.

With AP information.