First Warning: Tracking what may become the first hurricane of the year

Weather Blog

Tropical Storm Elsa officially formed in the Central Atlantic early Thursday morning, becoming the fifth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

Tropical Storm Elsa is the earliest “E”-named storm on record (July 1), beating the old record of July 6th set by TS Edouard just last year. The storm’s formation also means the 2021 hurricane season is now outpacing the 2020 Atlantic season to date, which ended up being the most active year on record.

While some conditions favor intensification in the storm’s path toward the Gulf of Mexico, such as a warm ocean and high relative humidity in the storm’s environment, others do not including its fast forward speed and its potential interaction with mountainous islands like Cuba.

“Spaghetti” computer model tracks of this tropical system over the next 120 hours

While the official National Hurricane Center’s forecast track takes the storm into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, potentially threatening Florida, you can see above that there is now an even higher spread in the forecast model tracks — meaning a higher uncertainty in the potential U.S. landfall location. This means that the Texas coastline is not entirely out of the woods.

This fifth storm of the 2021 hurricane season continues what has already been a busier than average year. According to NHC climatology data from 1966-2009, the first tropical storm of the year doesn’t typically come until July 9. The first hurricane of the season typically comes August 10.

While Elsa is not officially forecast to reach hurricane strength at this time, some computer models are suggesting that it could.

Stay with the KXAN First Warning Weather team for daily updates on this storm as it continues developing and as we process new forecast data.

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