Tropical Storm ELSA expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico around July 5th

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Elsa is being swept toward the Caribbean by a strong high pressure that is sprawled across the Atlantic. This is the same high that is spreading the plume of storm-killing dust over the ocean as well. But Tropical Storm ELSA started far enough south that it wasn’t engulfed by the plume and could pull clear, moist air from the south to hold off the dust. It will move into the Caribbean Sea wrapped in moisture.

The strong flow around the high will propel Elsa across the eastern Caribbean islands today. Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings have been issued for the affected islands by the local governments there. The expectation is that Elsa will continue to strengthen as it approaches the islands. The big question is, what happens after that for us here in the Gulf States.

Fast-moving storms often have a hard time intensifying because the upper-level winds have to move the top of the storm at the same speed as the bottom to keep the storm from tilting over and weakening. Lots of times, the winds don’t sync up. Also, the track Elsa takes is critical to how strong it can be. For now ELSA is to remain at Tropical Storm Strength. However, that could change as we move into next week.

The nose of the steering high-pressure system will be clipped over the weekend by an unseasonably strong dip in the jet stream over the eastern U.S. This dip is responsible for the cold and rainy first half of the weekend in the Northeast.

Without the influence of the high, Elsa will slow down and turn toward the north. But exactly where it does that is critical to its future strength. If Elsa turns early and runs over Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the mountains could weaken it significantly. If it runs over Cuba, that landmass could affect it as well, but perhaps less so.

The current expectation is that Elsa will be in the general vicinity of Florida early next week. The details are unknowable at this time. Remember, forecasts for developing storms always have greater errors than for strong hurricanes. So don’t read too much into the cone or any specific forecasts.

Everyone along the Gulf Coast should be weather aware this coming weekend and keep up with her latest forecast track.

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