MSN Weather: By Zachary CoveyTropical Storm Elsa formed Thursday morning with sustained winds of 45 mph.

The system remains in the central Atlantic but is racing to the west around 20 to 25 mph. 

This is pretty rare to have a system form in this part of the central Atlantic. Normally, strong wind shear exists in the main development region this time of the year, which tears storms apart. However, that wind shear exists well to its north and east and so this wave resides in a pretty favorable environment.

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The only real hinderance with this storm system from developing at a pretty rapid rate will be the fast trade winds out ahead of the system, not allowing the system to maintain an organized circulation. There’s also a little bit of dry air to its northeast, but for now, the wave is creating a bit of distance between that dry air pocket and its own circulation.

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Over the course of the next several days, Elsa is likely to continue working its way west, as the system is steered by a large ridge of high pressure to its north and is trapped in the easterly trade winds.

By late Friday or early Saturday, a large trough of low pressure begins to push off the eastern seaboard of the United States. This trough is likely to weaken the ridge of high pressure to its north. The combination between this weakening of the ridge combined with the expected strengthening of the storm, should allow Elsa to gain some latitude and move in a more West-Northwest or Northwest pattern. This will take Elsa closer to the Greater Antilles, including Cuba, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

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Beyond that, it’s a big question mark where Elsa may go. This depends on if the upper level high to its north builds back quickly or will Elsa get torn up by the terrain of the Greater Antilles. 

For now, South Florida remains in the cone for potential impacts from this storm. Right now, the most likely timing for impacts would be late Monday and throughout the day Tuesday, but this is highly dependent on the track of where Elsa goes beyond Saturday. A track farther south would likely keep Elsa away from southeast Florida whereas a track farther north may bring impacts closer to home.

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For now, you should review your hurricane kit and hurricane plan. With the holiday weekend upon us, the last thing you want to do is be unprepared for a potential tropical system immediately following the Fourth of July festivities. We have a great resource for you – the CBS 12 Hurricane Guide. Check it out for everything you need to get you prepared for this and any other storms we may face this season.

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