Hurricane Elsa raced toward Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Saturday, where it threatened to unleash flooding and landslides before taking aim at Cuba and Florida.The Category 1 storm was located about 395 miles east-southeast of Isla Beata, Dominican Republic and was moving west-northwest at 29 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, with the hurricane expected to become a tropical storm after hitting Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.The long-term forecast track showed it heading toward Florida as a tropical storm by Tuesday morning, but some models would carry it into the Gulf or up the Atlantic Coast.In Haiti, authorities used social media to alert people about the hurricane and urged them to evacuate if they lived near water or mountain flanks.“The whole country is threatened by this hurricane,” the Civil Protection Agency said in a statement. “Make every effort to escape before it’s too late.”Officials in St. Lucia said that 90% of power customers were without electricity at the height of the storm. Landslides, flooding and damaged homes also were reported.Haiti is especially vulnerable to floods and landslides because of widespread erosion and deforestation.A hurricane warning was issued for Jamaica and from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince to Punta Palenque in the Dominican Republic. A hurricane watch was in effect for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba. Some of those provinces have reported a high number of COVID-19 infections, raising concerns that the storm could force large groups of people to seek shelter together.In the neighboring Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, authorities opened more than 2,400 shelters as forecasters warned of heavy rains starting Saturday before dawn.Elsa is forecast to brush past the southernmost point of Hispaniola by early Saturday afternoon and then take aim at communities in southern Haiti. The storm already ripped off roofs, destroyed crops and downed trees and power lines in the eastern Caribbean on Friday, with damage reported in Barbados, St. Lucia and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which are struggling to recover from massive volcanic eruptions that began in April.Elsa is the first hurricane of the Atlantic season and the earliest fifth-named storm on record. It is forecast to drop 4 to 8 inches of rain with maximum totals of 15 inches across portions of southern Hispaniola and Jamaica. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:Southern coast of Dominican Republic from Punta Palenque to the border with HaitiSouthern portion of Haiti from Port Au Prince to the southern border with the Dominican RepublicJamaicaA Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:The coast of Haiti north of Port Au PrinceSouth coast of the Dominican Republic east of Punta Palenque to Cabo EnganoA Hurricane Watch is in effect for:The Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, and Santiago de CubaA Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:North coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Bahia de ManzanilloCayman Brac and Little Cayman

Hurricane Elsa raced toward Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Saturday, where it threatened to unleash flooding and landslides before taking aim at Cuba and Florida.

The Category 1 storm was located about 395 miles east-southeast of Isla Beata, Dominican Republic and was moving west-northwest at 29 mph. It had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, with the hurricane expected to become a tropical storm after hitting Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

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The long-term forecast track showed it heading toward Florida as a tropical storm by Tuesday morning, but some models would carry it into the Gulf or up the Atlantic Coast.

In Haiti, authorities used social media to alert people about the hurricane and urged them to evacuate if they lived near water or mountain flanks.

“The whole country is threatened by this hurricane,” the Civil Protection Agency said in a statement. “Make every effort to escape before it’s too late.”

Officials in St. Lucia said that 90% of power customers were without electricity at the height of the storm. Landslides, flooding and damaged homes also were reported.

An electrical pole felled by Hurricane Elsa leans on the edge of a residential balcony, in Cedars, St. Vincent, Friday, July 2, 2021.

Orvil Samuel / AP Photo

An electrical pole felled by Hurricane Elsa leans on the edge of a residential balcony, in Cedars, St. Vincent, Friday, July 2, 2021.

Haiti is especially vulnerable to floods and landslides because of widespread erosion and deforestation.

A hurricane warning was issued for Jamaica and from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince to Punta Palenque in the Dominican Republic. A hurricane watch was in effect for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba. Some of those provinces have reported a high number of COVID-19 infections, raising concerns that the storm could force large groups of people to seek shelter together.

In the neighboring Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, authorities opened more than 2,400 shelters as forecasters warned of heavy rains starting Saturday before dawn.

Elsa is forecast to brush past the southernmost point of Hispaniola by early Saturday afternoon and then take aim at communities in southern Haiti. The storm already ripped off roofs, destroyed crops and downed trees and power lines in the eastern Caribbean on Friday, with damage reported in Barbados, St. Lucia and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which are struggling to recover from massive volcanic eruptions that began in April.

Elsa is the first hurricane of the Atlantic season and the earliest fifth-named storm on record. It is forecast to drop 4 to 8 inches of rain with maximum totals of 15 inches across portions of southern Hispaniola and Jamaica.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Southern coast of Dominican Republic from Punta Palenque to the border with Haiti
  • Southern portion of Haiti from Port Au Prince to the southern border with the Dominican Republic
  • Jamaica

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • The coast of Haiti north of Port Au Prince
  • South coast of the Dominican Republic east of Punta Palenque to Cabo Engano

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for:

  • The Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Granma, Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • North coast of the Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Bahia de Manzanillo
  • Cayman Brac and Little Cayman

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