Elsa weakened to a tropical storm Saturday with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph after strengthening to a hurricane overnight. The storm may regain hurricane strength, which requires wind speeds of at least 74 mph, prompting Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to declare a local state of emergency as the weather disturbance threatens South Florida.
Hurricane spaghetti models forecast Elsa may remain just west of South Florida, but some models show a direct strike. It's still too early to gauge the long-term track of the storm.
As of 1100 ET, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) published data showing the storm is headed west-northwest at a blazing speed of 29 mph, located 40 miles southeast of Isla Beata, Dominican Republic.
Elsa's intensity is expected to moderate later this weekend when it traverses Cuba. By early next week, the storm is expected to either pass to the west of South Florida and or a direct hit.
The threat of impact prompted Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava to sign a local state of emergency for the area. She announced the emergency order during an update Saturday morning on the Surfside, Florida condo tower collapse.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says she has signed a local state of emergency for Hurricane Elsa and that preparations are being made “out of an abundance of caution” https://t.co/3yv7Gh4Zoo pic.twitter.com/AGRJR188pW— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 3, 2021
We noted last week, "a lot of uncertainty surrounds Elsa's path late weekend into next week. If the storm is headed for South Florida, this may further complicate search and rescue efforts at the Champlain Towers South building in Miami."
The question remains if the structural integrity of what's left of Champlain South can survive a tropical storm or hurricane next week. Let's hope the storm deviates west of South Florida for the sake of the rescue effort.
We'll have a better understanding of the storm's path in the next 24 hours.