Tropical Storm Elsa hit Cuba on Sunday, where strong winds and heavy rains are expected to continue for two days, before heading to Florida.
Elsa became the first hurricane this season in the Atlantic on Friday, when it was rated category one (out of five) on the Saffir-Simpson rankings.
“Clouds of clouds, with heavy rains, characteristic of a tropical storm, have begun to cover the eastern region of Cuba,” the Meteorological Institute (Insmet) said at 09:00 (13:00 GMT).
At the time, Elsa was 216 km southeast of Cabo Cruz, in the eastern province of Granma, the first point to reach in Cuba.
“The precipitation will be strong and intense in places, especially in the mountainous areas, as well as on the south coast,” added Insmet, adding that the storm was advancing at a speed of 20 km / h with a wind of 100 km / h.
The “cyclonic alert” was declared for 11 of the 15 Cuban provinces that have been preparing to suffer damage for several days.
Tropical Storm Elsa passed off the southwest coast of Haiti on Saturday, heading toward Jamaica and eastern Cuba, bringing with it strong winds and heavy rains.
No major damage was reported in Haiti.
Elsa is attacking Cuba as the country suffers a new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, reaching a record 3,519 positive cases in one day and 14 deaths on Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,351 as of March 2020.
“Elsa is expected to gradually weaken overnight and through Monday as it travels through Cuba,” the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. “Once it reaches the Florida Strait and the southeastern Gulf of Mexico, Elsa may increase slightly in intensity,” he added.
In south Florida, tropical storm Elsa could bring precipitation, flooding and strong wind gusts, but that will depend on how it develops as Cuba progresses, according to the NHC.
Elsa is expected to arrive in the Keys archipelago, south of the U.S. state, on Tuesday around 2 a.m. (6 p.m. GMT) and then ascend toward Jacksonville.