Note: Elsa became a hurricane after the embedded video was recorded.

Tropical Storm Elsa quickly strengthened into a hurricane Friday morning, making a beeline for the Caribbean. At 8 a.m. ET Friday, Elsa was centered just 20 miles southwest of Barbados.

Surface observations from Barbados indicate that Elsa’s maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane. Gusts have reached 86 mph so far.

The Meteorological Service of Barbados has issued a hurricane warning for Barbados, as well as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Meteorological Service of St. Lucia has issued a hurricane warning for St. Lucia.

Track and wind

The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Hurricane Elsa to move into the Caribbean Sea by Friday night, weakening back to a tropical storm and getting close to the southern coast of Hispaniola on Saturday. By Sunday, Elsa could be near Jamaica, or making landfall in southern Cuba. Then, Elsa could make landfall in southern Florida late Monday into early Tuesday, with sustained winds still at or above 60 mph. The storm could become a hurricane at some point, which would require sustained winds reaching 74 mph.

Tropical storm conditions are expected Saturday in Haiti and southern portions of the Dominican Republic, with hurricane conditions possible in southern Haiti. The NHC has posted tropical storm warnings and hurricane watches for these areas. Tropical storm conditions are possible Saturday night or early Sunday in Jamaica.

Storm surge

A storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds along the southern coast of Hispaniola.


Tropical Storm Elsa could dump 3 to 6 inches of total rain Friday, with maximum amounts of 10 inches, across the Windward and southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados. Over Puerto Rico, rainfall of 1 to 3 inches with localized amounts of 5 inches are possible late Friday into Saturday. Across portions of southern Hispaniola and Jamaica, look for rainfall of 4 to 8 inches Saturday into Sunday, with isolated maximum amounts of 12 inches possible.

This rain may lead to localized flash flooding, minor river flooding and potential mudslides.

It’s too early to determine Elsa’s possible impacts on the U.S., so look for updates on the FreightWaves website and social media accounts over the next several days.

Impact on freight

The FreightWaves SONAR Headhaul (HAUL) map below gives a snapshot of trucking capacity in each of the 135 markets. Circled in yellow are the Miami and Lakeland, Florida, markets, which are in the potential path of Tropical Storm Elsa early next week.

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR Headhaul Index (HAUL). To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

They are shaded in dark red, meaning there’s much more inbound freight than outbound, making them “backhaul” markets. This means they have excess trucking capacity. So, carriers with trucks positioned here should grab whatever loads they can find before the storm possibly hits.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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