© Reuters. Volcanic ash and mud fill a road following the passing of Hurricane Elsa in an area on the north coast, made impassible from the south due to the ash fallout from successive eruptions of La Souffriere volcano combined with storm rainfall, in Sandy Bay, St
By Kate Chappell and Marc Frank
HAVANA (Reuters) -Tropical Storm Elsa on Sunday was near eastern Cuba, bringing heavy rain and strong winds to the Caribbean island nation, while Jamaica and other islands were still grappling with the fallout.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said maximum sustained winds were near 60 miles per hour (95 km per hour) with higher gusts, having downgraded Elsa from a hurricane, on Saturday.
A hurricane is defined as having winds of at least 75 mph (121 kph).
Elsa’s center was near eastern Cuba, the NHC said. It was about 40 miles (65 km) south-southeast of Cabo Cruz in Cuba at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), and heading northwest.
The storm will bring 5 to 10 inches (13 to 25 cm) of rain to Cuba, with some spots getting up to 15 inches (38 cm). Miami-based NHC warned that the rain may lead to scattered flash flooding and mudslides, some of which could be significant.
“Some strengthening is possible today and tonight as Elsa approaches the south-central coast of Cuba,” the NHC said in an alert https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATCPAT5+shtml/041158.shtml. “However, gradual weakening is forecast to occur on Monday when Elsa moves across Cuba.”
Authorities in Haiti, where the storm has severely affected the agriculture sector, according to an initial assessment, warned of a risk of floods and landslides.
In Jamaica’s capital Kingston, some roads were flooded.
“Persons have been trapped in vehicles,” Owen Palmer, a first responder said, adding that some Jamaicans were scared.
“They didn’t take the storm seriously – as Jamaicans always do – until the rain started to fall.”
Iane Thomas, who runs a small restaurant, said a swollen river flooded nearby houses. “The river was running very fast cause plenty rain fell in the morning. It came down from the hills,” Thomas said.
Elsa was forecast to move across central and western Cuba by Monday and head toward the Florida Straits, the NHC said, and then move near or over portions of the west coast of Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The approaching storm has forced Florida officials to begin work to demolish the remaining portion of a condo building that collapsed about 10 days ago, killing at least 24 with over 120 people missing.
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