Late last night Elsa briefly became a hurricane again. Luckily it jogged west a little bit. So Tampa, Florida was spared the worst of the winds. This morning it had weakened back into a tropical storm, but it was still holding its own.
Elsa is moving north (offshore of Florida). It had winds of 65 mph sustained as of this writing. Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall along the Florida Gulf Coast around 10:30 a.m. The hurricane warning along the west coast of Florida has been changed to a Tropical Storm Warning.
The storm is expected to be in the Raleigh/Durham vicinity by Thursday afternoon. It will either be a top-end tropical depression or a weak tropical storm at the time. Then it will pick up some speed (in terms of its motion) and head into our area late in the day.
The worst of the weather will probably be late tomorrow into tomorrow night. Then the system will push out to sea Friday morning. After that it could make landfall again over one of the northeast states. Possibly near Boston.
The models are in pretty good agreement on the track of the system. They all pretty much run it up through our region with a bit of a trend for the center to pass just to our west.
The GFS model does have it up into our area, but it looks fairly weak as it arrives. At least in terms of the winds.
One thing the GFS model doesn’t show is the heavy rain bands that I believe will be occasionally moving through the area. Our Future Trak model does a pretty good job with this. So it has the first of the rain bands arriving around midday.
Then it has a few other rounds of showers and storms going into Thursday evening with the heaviest rain from about 8 p.m. until 11 p.m.
Like the other models it pushes the system out by early Friday morning. Since it looks like the center of the storm will pass just to our west I would say that the more concentrated area of rain will be to our west. However, I do think that there will be some very heavy rain in these rain bands that will run through the region. This may create some localized flooding. So here are 4 different model estimates of rainfall.
I am siding with the RPM version. I think it’s suggesting that we’ll have 0.5″ to 1.5″ of rain with some locations getting 2-3″. Those would be those pockets of heavy downpours located in the rain bands. So there will be some localized flooding, but I don’t think it will be on a large scale. If the system does track a bit more east, then that could change.
Winds will be fairly calm until about Thursday evening. Then we’ll have some gusts to 25-35mph. There may be some higher gusts near the shore.
The winds will be strong Thursday evening into Thursday night. Winds could briefly gust to 40mph. That is tropical storm force. So there is a tropical storm watch in effect for northeast North Carolina and parts of southeast Virginia.
Our Future Trak model did lessen the winds since the overnight forecast. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the winds will weaken even more. Especially if the system tracks even more to the west. The winds shouldn’t cause any big tidal flooding. There may be some nuisance tidal flooding. With the south/southeasterly direction for a while we may have a little of the wind-tide effect up into the northern Albemarle Sound and southern Virginia Beach, but I don’t think it will be too bad.
One problem that we will probably have to deal with will be isolated tornadoes. It happens quite a bit that tropical storms and depressions already have a large area of spin. That spin can get focused down to a smaller scale in some of the rain bands, and that could prompt a few tornadoes to form.
Stay tuned for updates on this system.
In the meantime we have high pressure in the area today.
We’ll have quiet weather with mostly to partly sunny skies. High temps will be in the mid 90s. However, the heat index will be near 100. There may be some isolated showers and storms late today, but they will be very limited.
Meteorologist: Jeremy Wheeler