The National Weather Service of South Florida warns that forecasters remain "very uncertain" regarding Elsa's track.
"Interests in Florida must monitor the updates to this system's forecast, but it is too early to determine what, if any, impacts could occur there next weekend given the uncertainty of the long-range outlook," the National Hurricane Center stated in its Thursday advisory at 5 a.m.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Elsa is the fifth-earliest-known named storm for the Atlantic basin during the satellite era. It was recorded in the Atlantic basin on July 6, 2020. Edouard held the previous record on July 6, 2020.
St. Vincent and Grenadines is under a tropical storm warning. Also, warnings are in effect for Barbados and Martinique as well as St. Lucia. Thursday's tropical storm watch was issued for Grenada, its dependencies, and the southern and Western coasts of Haiti. It stretches from the Dominican Republic's southern border to Le Mole le St. Nicholas.
Forecasters anticipate that additional warnings and watches will be issued on Thursday. They also expect tropical storm conditions to begin in the watch and warning areas on Friday.
According to the state, it has prepared a "contingency plan" for Elsa's arrival in South Florida. Crews are still at Surfside, near Miami Beach. More than 140 people remain missing.
The storm was moving west at 29 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph and higher gusts. It is expected to accelerate its speed in the next day as it moves westward-northwest. The center is 90 miles away from the storm, but the majority of the winds are to the north.
Elsa will likely strengthen over the next few days as it crosses a patch of warm, humid water and low wind shear. Forecasters warned that Elsa's rapid speed could cause the storm to split in half, which could stop strengthening.
"A fast-moving storm, especially in this area of the Atlantic, can have a difficult time staying organized and un-sheared," stated Levi Cowan, a meteorologist, who runs Tropical Tidbits . He posted a video analysis of Thursday's storm.
Cowan stated that if the storm continues to stack after passing through the Windward Islands, it could strengthen further. This projection is reflected in the hurricane center forecast which predicts Elsa to reach 60 mph within a few days.
Elsa's current path takes her over mountainous islands. This could be another factor that weakens Elsa.
It is expected to pass close or over parts of the Windward Islands and the southern Leeward Islands Friday, before moving into the eastern Caribbean Sea on Friday. The system is expected to then move towards the Hispaniola's southern coast on Saturday.