Elsa strengthened into the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic season in the early hours of Friday July 2, battering the eastern islands of the Caribbean. As of 2 p.m. Eastern time, the center of the fast-moving hurricane, with sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, was passing near the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the National Hurricane Center reports. The storm was about 580 miles east-southeast of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and was moving west-northwest at 29 m.p.h. A hurricane watch was issued for Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines, in the Eastern Caribbean after Storm Elsa strengthened to a Category 1, expecting winds with gusts close to 150 km/h. As such, airports across the region remain closed with a growing number of flight cancellations.
#NOTICE: Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport closed until tomorrow morning at 6AM due to passage of Hurricane Elsa
— Kevz Politics (@KevzPolitics) July 2, 2021
Current projections do not place Belize within Hurricane Elsa’s path. Some weather models predict Elsa turns and stays east of Florida, while others take it into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving the entire Florida Peninsula in the cone of error.
Hurricane #Elsa is now stronger with sustained winds at 85 mph. Further strengthening is likely over the next couple of days as the storm continues to move through the Caribbean.
Hurricane and tropical storm alerts are active. See the latest NOW on air. pic.twitter.com/mxpabKdKQs
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) July 2, 2021
A hurricane warning is in effect for the southern portion of Haiti from Port Au Prince to the southern border with the Dominican Republic and the southern cost of the Dominican Republic from Punta Palenque to the border with Haiti. A hurricane watch is in effect for Jamaica. Tropical storm warnings are in place for St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Martinique, and Dominica as the storm pulls away from the islands this afternoon, as well as Jamaica, the southern coast of the Dominican Republic east of Punta Palenque to Cabo Engano, and the coast of Haiti north of Port Au Prince. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Grenada and its dependencies, Saba and St. Eustatius, the north coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Bahia de Manzanillo, and the islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
The administration of Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown (GAIA), Barbados, suspended all operations at 10:00 PM local time on Thursday, July 1. Access to its facilities were facilitated to essential personal only. “Passengers are encouraged to contact their airlines for information on their respective flights,” said Hadley Bourne, CEO of GAIA, Inc. For GAIA airport—the main hub of the Eastern Caribbean—a total of 38 flights (arrivals and departures) were expected today, July 1, of which 14 are already canceled.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Kingstown Argyle International Airport, in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines followed suit. While the Argyle International Airport (SVD) expected 18 flights today, 6 have since been canceled.
In Grenada, the Maurice Bishop International Airport has since cancelled four of the eight scheduled flights for today.
Airlines await all-clear
Caribbean Airlines, the main airline in the region reported the cancellation of four flights in the region so far: BW 205 from Grenada to Barbados, BW 204 en route Barbados – Saint Vincent – Granada, BW 214 en route Barbados – Ogle, and BW 215 from Ogle to Barbados. American Airlines also issued an alert about its flights to Bridgetown, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent / Argyle.