Elsa was the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. Yes, Elsa like one of the heroes of Disney's Frozen. While it reached hurricane status last week, it has since been downgraded to a tropical storm and is now buffeting Florida with rain and wind after making its way through the Gulf of Mexico.
The National Hurricane Center announced last Friday that Elsa had sustained winds of 74 mph (119 kmh), which qualified it as a Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. NHC warns that storms of that strength can produce very dangerous winds that can damage homes, trees and power lines.
The National Weather Service posted a GIF of Elsa swirling as it made its way into Florida, triggering warnings about rainfall, gusty winds and even possible tornados.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shared a churning view of Elsa when it was at hurricane strength last week as seen by the Goes-East weather-monitoring satellite.
"The storm is the earliest-forming fifth Atlantic named storm on record," NOAA tweeted, which falls in line with expectations for an "above-normal" hurricane season. The season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The four previous named tropical storms didn't reach hurricane strength.
The NHC is tracking the storm, which had 65 mph (105 kmh) winds at landfall. The organization reported on Wednesday that Elsa is weakening as it moves inland.
Elsa marks the ramping up of storm season and it may be the first in a long line of big storms to come. NOAA is expecting six to 10 hurricanes this year, so we'll hold off on the Frozen jokes.
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