MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Tropical Storm Elsa is a little stronger as it heads towards the Lesser Antilles.

At 11 p.m., the center of the storm was located 260 miles east-southeast of Barbados.

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Elsa is moving toward the west-northwest near 26 mph and this motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days.

On the forecast track, Elsa will pass near or over portions of the Windward Islands or the southern Leeward Islands on Friday, move into the eastern Caribbean Sea late Friday and Friday night, and move near the southern coast of Hispaniola on Saturday.

By Sunday, Elsa is forecast to move near Jamaica and portions of eastern Cuba.

Recent satellite wind data indicates that maximum sustained winds have increased to near 50 mph with higher gusts. Some additional strengthening is forecast over the next 12 to 24 hours.

The tropical-storm-force winds now extend outward up to 140 mile, mainly to the north of the center.

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A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • Barbados
  • Martinique
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • Grenada and its dependencies
  • The southern and western coasts of Haiti from the southern border of the Dominican Republic to Le Mole le St. Nicholas
  • The southern coast of the Dominican Republic from the southern border of Haiti eastward to Punta Palenque
  • Jamaica

South Florida is also included in the forecast track so we will need to closely watch it over the weekend.

For now, Elsa is not expected to be a hurricane threat to South Florida. Its closest approach would be next Monday into Tuesday but it is still too soon to say what, if any impacts, we will see.

The forecast models spread out and are not in agreement going into the late weekend and early next week. Some models forecast Elsa staying south of Cuba while other models forecast it could move over Cuba, the Gulf of Mexico, or possibly in the general direction of South Florida.

We all need to remain alert and aware.

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Tropical Storm Elsa is now the earliest fifth named storm on record. Team