ORLANDO, Fla. - Elsa remained a Category 1 hurricane in the National Hurricane Center's 11 p.m. update but the storm has experienced some weakening due to wind shear, according to forecasters.
Florida remains in the projected path though the storm shifted slightly to the west over the course of the day on Friday.
"You have the 'cone of uncertainty,' but with this storm, uncertainty is the bottom line because there's no guarantees this thing will survive transit across the Caribbean but it looks pretty impressive right now on satellite," said FOX 35 Storm Team Meteorologist Brooks Garner.
Late Friday evening, the center of Hurricane Elsa was located about 1,175 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.
Elsa is moving toward the west-northwest near 29 mph and this motion is expected to continue through Saturday. Maximum sustained winds are measured at 80 mph, a slight decrease from observations made late Friday afternoon. A west-northwestward motion with a decrease in forward speed is expected Saturday night and Sunday, followed by a turn toward the northwest Sunday night or Monday.
On the forecast track, Elsa will move across the eastern Caribbean Sea overnight and move near the southern coast of Hispaniola late Saturday or Saturday night. By Sunday, Elsa is forecast to move near Jamaica and portions of eastern Cuba, and move near portions of central and western Cuba Sunday night and Monday.
"The National Hurricane Center official track does indeed include Florida and Orlando in that track, and if it was to take this track and held together, we'll be on the 'dirty side' of the storm," said Garner. "Most likely, that's the east side of the storm or the right-hand side of the circulation, and that would mean not just the possibility of some flooding from five to eight inches of rain, but also the isolated tornado risk."
Little change in strength is forecast through Saturday. Slow weakening is expected to begin Saturday night or Sunday as Elsa passes near or over the Greater Antilles.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles.
"The first effects could be felt late Monday night, with the center of circulation possibly passing over the peninsula Tuesday afternoon before heading into Georgia, but there are no guarantees with this," said Garner.
Garner added that one forecast model takes Elsa offshore of Tampa Bay and it kind of fizzles as a tropical depression or weak tropical storm hitting the Panhandle.
A Hurricane Warning has been issued in Jamaica while Hurricane Watches are in effect for parts of Cuba.
Elsa is the fifth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. The next name on the list is Fred. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the U.S. is likely to be hit with another "above-normal" year, with 13 to 20 total named storms.
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The FOX 35 STORM TEAM is committed to keeping you safe, stay with us as we track the tropics this 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season.