Tropical Storm Elsa could re-strengthen over open water before impacting NC

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It’s looking more likely that Tropical Storm Elsa could have an impact in North Carolina in the coming days.

Monday at 5 a.m., the latest update from the National Hurricane Center showed the storm had sustained winds of around 65 mph

Rain from Elsa is likely move into North Carolina on Thursday, but it’s too early to estimate any additional impacts.

“Once it makes landfall across Cuba, we’ll get a better sense of where the storm is really going to track and just how impactful it’s going to be here at home,” said WRAL meteorologist Peta Sheerwood.

Meteorologists are watching closely to determine the storm’s trajectory – it could impact the state’s coast or inland, depending on how the next few days play out.

“The impacts could be significantly different if the storm does track a little bit more towards the east along the coast,” said Sheerwood.

Elsa should weaken as it moves over Cuba on Monday morning, but some re-strengthening could occur as it makes it was over open water in the Gulf of Mexico.


A Tropical Storm Watch was issued for the Florida Keys.

Tropical Storm Watch issued for Florida Keys

“We’ll watch this system closely as land interaction from Cuba could cause some definite weakening, but re-strengthening should occur once Elsa moves away from Cuba and through the Florida straits,” said WRAL meteorologist Zach Maloch.

The latest forecast track from the NHC showed Hurricane Elsa continuing to move west-northwest and interacting with Cuba, before eventually making its way into the southeastern Gulf before making a turn. Many of the computer models have the system turning northeast once it makes contact with Florida, going into Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

If the storm does weaken, it could influence the track as we head into Sunday and Monday, according to Sheerwood, but it it stays over warmer sea surface temperatures, just south of Cuba, we could see this strengthen and the track could continue to change.

The storm will begin moving through portions of the southeast United States beginning Wednesday, according to Maloch.

Elsa would be in North Carolina late Wednesday night, or early Thursday morning. Our state is in the forecast cone, but there’s uncertainty between now and then. We could see some gusty winds and heavy rains across eastern and central part of the state.

The storm would likely move away from the state by Thursday night, according to Maloch.

“Rain from Elsa is looking likely on Thursday,” Maloch said. “Most likely Thursday morning through the afternoon and early evening.”

Inland or coastal for Elsa? It could make a big difference

There are two things to watch with the storm:

“Upper-level wind shear is going to increase over the next 24 to 48 hours, which should weaken the storm, in theory. Also, with interaction of the land-mass [around Cuba] may further weaken it, so by the time it does get into the Gulf, it may be much weaker than it’s forecasted now,” explained Maze.

Maze added that the spaghetti model plots are now showing a more general consensus that the storm will head in the current forecasted direction.

“We are getting some very good agreement that some impact from Elsa is looking more likely for us here, in central North Carolina,” said Maloch.