RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Hurricane Elsa maintained its strength Friday as a Category 1 storm as it moved toward Florida.
The National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. update on Else put the storm 505 southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic with 85 mph winds.
The storm also had 85 mph winds during the NHC’s 2 p.m. update.
Elsa is moving west at 30 mph at 5 p.m.
The system isn’t likely to reach North Carolina until mid-next week but could make landfall in Cuba early Monday morning.
According to the NHC, the forecast uncertainty is higher than usual because Elsa could potentially interact with the Greater Antilles this weekend – just one of the obstacles the storm faces before reaching the U.S.
Dr. Philip Klotzbach with Colorado State University said Elsa is the earliest fifth named storm on record. The previous record was set last year by Edouard, which formed July 6.
Elsa is expected to produce rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches with maximum amounts of 15 inches on Friday across the Windward and southern Leeward Islands, including Barbados.
Puerto Rico is forecast to receive 1 to 3 inches of rain with localized amounts of 5 inches expected late Friday into Saturday.