Elsa becomes the 1st Hurricane of the season in Caribbean

Elsa strengthened to become the Atlantic's first hurricane on Friday. It blew off roofs and snapped trees, causing havoc in eastern Caribbean. Officials closed schools, businesses, and airports. It seemed to be heading towards Florida eventually.

Elsa becomes the 1st Hurricane of the season in Caribbean

Barbados' first hurricane in over 60 years is Category 1. It unleashed heavy rains on Barbados and St. Vincent and Grenadines. They are still recovering from massive volcanic eruptions.

Elsa was located 395 miles (635 km) east-southeast from Isla Beata, Dominican Republic. It was moving west-northwest with a speed of 29 mph (46 KPH). According to the National Hurricane Center, Miami, Elsa sustained maximum winds of 80 mph (130 km/h).

Ralph Gonsalves, St. Vincent Prime Minister, stated that sustained winds can cause significant damage and blow down buildings. "I plead with you. This hurricane is not something to be taken lightly. This is not the right time to fool around.

It was forecast to move towards Florida as a tropical hurricane by Tuesday morning. However, some models predicted it would make it into the Gulf and up the Atlantic Coast.

Barbados authorities reported receiving calls from families about their homes being trapped, collapsed, and losing power and water. However, there were no reports of any serious injuries or deaths. Wilfred Abrahams (minister of home affairs and information, public affairs) urged Barbados residents to offer their homes to anyone in need.

He said, "We are receiving a lot of damage reports."

Officials in St. Lucia reported that 90% of electricity customers were without power during the storm. Also, there were reports of flooding, landslides and homes being damaged.

The hurricane warning was in place for Jamaica, from Port-au-Prince in Haiti to Punta Palenque (Dominican Republic). The Cuban provinces Camaguey and Granma were under hurricane watch.

The track forecast showed that the storm was moving quickly towards Hispaniola, an island shared by Haiti, and Dominican Republic as a hurricane, before passing Cuba and weakening to tropical storm force.

Authorities set up shelters throughout St. Vincent, and advised residents to evacuate any valleys near them, due to the risk of flooding, mudslides, and flash flooding. This was especially true in the northern region of the island, where La Soufriere volcano lies.

Gonsalves stated that 94 shelters were open. This is a decrease in number than previous years, as some 2,000 people are still in shelters after the massive volcanic eruptions in April.

Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University hurricane researcher, said Elsa is the fifth-earliest named storm to be recorded. He beat Eduardo on July 6. He also pointed out that Elsa is the first hurricane to form in the tropical Atlantic that has been so far east since 1933. Mid-August is the average date of Atlantic hurricane formation between 1991 and 2020.

Forecasters predicted that the storm would bring between 4 and 8 inches (10 to 20 cmimeters), with maximum rainfall of 15 inches (38 cmimeters), Friday across the Windward Islands. Rainstorms could cause flash flooding or mudslides in isolated areas.