(CNN) – Tropical Storm Elsa has weakened and is moving more slowly this Sunday, as it moves away from Haiti toward Jamaica and Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), while a tropical storm watch is operating in the Florida Keys.
NHC said that at 5 a.m. ET, Elsa was moving from west to northwest at 22.5 km/h with maximum winds of 104.6 km/h. Its epicenter was 137 km east of Kingston, Jamaica.
The storm hit parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti late on Saturday, with heavy rain and winds moving south.
Two people died in the Dominican Republic When Elsa hit the Caribbean island on Saturday, the country’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) said.
In separate incidents, strong winds caused walls to collapse in Bahruko, killing a 15-year-old, and in Bani, killing a 75-year-old, according to the commission.
Elsa is moving near Jamaica and parts of eastern and central Cuba on Sunday, as tropical storms and possible hurricanes are expected later Sunday into the evening, the commission said.
Tropical Storm Warning in Florida
Forecasters said the forecast is uncertain beyond Sunday, but Elsa could bring heavy rain and gale-force winds to southern Florida this week as a tropical storm — including the site of the apartment collapse in Miami.
NHC released a tropical storm watch late Saturday for the Florida Keys, from Craig Key west to Dry Tortugas. The alert means tropical storm conditions, including sustained winds of at least 62.7 km/h, are possible within 48 hours.
By Monday, Elsa is expected to cross central and western Cuba and head toward the Florida Straits. A tropical storm is expected in parts of the Keys and southwest Florida Monday night. Elsa is expected to move near or over parts of Florida’s west coast on Tuesday and Wednesday.
It will probably strengthen a bit on Sunday as Elsa passes through warm waters and approaches the south-central coast of Cuba.
However, a gradual weakening is expected on Sunday night and Monday night as Elsa passes through Cuba. After the storm passes through Cuba, it will move into the Florida Strait, where it can be slightly reinforced as it moves through the warm Gulf Stream.
State of emergency for 15 Florida counties
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency in 15 counties on Saturday upon Elsa’s arrival.
In addition, he encouraged residents to initiate preparedness efforts, including stocking their disaster supply kits with a week’s supply and developing a disaster plan.
“We are preparing for the risk of isolated hurricanes, storm surge, heavy rain and flooding,” DeSantis said.
The state of emergency includes Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Desoto, Hardy, Hernando, Hillsboro, Lee, Levi, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.
What is expected
Hurricane Elsa was a Category 1 hurricane on Friday and Saturday morning, but was reduced to a tropical storm late Saturday.
“A further decrease in ground speed is expected … on Sunday, followed by a turn to the northwest on Sunday or Monday night,” the commission said.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for the coast of Haiti north of Port-au-Prince; the southern coast of the Dominican Republic from Ponta Palenque to the border with Haiti; 10 provinces in Cuba; and for Jamaica.
Heavy rain is expected in parts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica through Sunday, with a potential for flooding and landslides of 10 to 38 cm, according to the NHC.
The National Hurricane Center added that Elsa is expected to move near Jamaica and parts of eastern Cuba on Sunday. Between 13 and 38 centimeters of rain is likely in some parts of Cuba from Sunday to Monday.
Floods and landslides are likely in Cuba, particularly in mountainous areas.
The Cayman Islands can also receive 8 to 13 centimeters of rain between Sunday and Monday, according to the NHC.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Motley said in a press conference on Saturday that Barbados experienced no loss of life or serious injury after Hurricane Elsa hit on Friday.
“It could have been a lot worse, but it was bad and certainly one of the most challenging we’ve had in recent times in terms of the weather,” the prime minister said.
At least 743 surfaces were damaged by the storm, Kerry Hinds, director of the Barbados Emergency Management Agency, said.
Roger Blackman, CEO of Barbados Light & Power Company, noted that 65% of the island’s customers had fully serviced electricity and that he expects 80% of customers to be available again within 48 hours.
Elsa’s path to the US coast is less accurate
According to the latest forecast, Elsa could start bringing wind and rain to the Florida Keys and southwest Florida Monday night as a tropical storm. Then he can tour the west coast of Florida early next week.
The NHC expects Elsa to bring 5 to 15 inches of rain to parts of the Florida Keys and southern Florida.
But even if the center of the storm were headed toward West Florida, the southeast Florida community in Surfside, “there would still be some impacts, even if it’s just some outer bands” of rain and wind for Tuesday or Wednesday, CNN meteorologist Tyler Maulden said.
Elsa and the partially collapsed building in Miami
Authorities said a team could demolish the remaining units of a partially collapsed apartment building in Surfside, Miami, early Sunday, as Elsa moved closer to Florida.
Otherwise, the authorities added, Elsa’s winds might be unsafe to topple the building.
The US Coast Guard has established X-Ray port status for the ports of Key West and Miami as Elsa approaches the Florida Peninsula, according to a Coast Guard press release.
This requirement means that sustained winds of 63 to 117 km/h are expected within 48 hours, and that ships and port facilities must embark on a series of preparations that are detailed in federal regulations.
Ports remain open for commercial traffic, but the Coast Guard warned that “the drawbridges will not be able to operate if winds reach 40 km/h or when there is an evacuation underway.”
Elsa was the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season, and the third storm to threaten the American coast.