Tropical Storm Elsa approaches Cuba and eyes Florida

Tropical Storm Elsa is bearing down on Cuba, with the Miami-based National Hurricane Center predicting it would move over the eastern part of the island on Sunday evening and through the rest of the country on Monday. As of 5 p.m. ET Sunday, Elsa had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and was located about 15 miles west of Cabo Cruz, Cuba.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm is expected to weaken as it moves across Cuba on Monday. It is then expected to pass near the Florida Keys early Tuesday before moving over parts of the western Florida coast on Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said. 

At least one death in St. Lucia has been attributed to the storm, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. According to a statement from the Emergency Operations Center given to The Associated Press, a 15-year-old boy and a 75-year-old woman died Saturday in separate events in the Dominican Republic after walls collapsed on them. 

Elsa hit parts of the Caribbean as a Category 1 storm before it was downgraded on Saturday. A hurricane watch remained in effect for parts of Cuba. The Cuban government evacuated 180,000 people in preparation for the storm, according to The Associated Press.

Tropical storm conditions are expected in Cuba, Jamaica and the Florida Keys. Tropical storm and storm surge conditions are possible for the west coast of the Florida peninsula, with dangerous storm surge possible beginning as early as Monday night into Tuesday.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has already declared a state of emergency in 15 counties, including Miami-Dade County, where search-and-rescue efforts at the collapsed condo building have been paused to prepare to demolish the building ahead of Elsa’s arrival. 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday that the demolition of Surfside’s Champlain Towers South will move forward as soon as preparations are complete and it’s safe to do so. 

According to a spokesperson for the town of Surfside, “Residents of the Champlain Towers East and Atlantic Rose Buildings will be required not to venture outside from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. due to the pending demolition.”