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Home Blogs Eye to the Sky Eye to the Sky: Could 'Elsa' eventually bring rain to East Tennessee?

Eye to the Sky: Could ‘Elsa’ eventually bring rain to East Tennessee?

Tropical Storm Elsa is battering Haiti this evening, and will eventually cross Hispaniola and Jamaica before heading towards Florida and the U.S. cost. Could this tropical storm eventually impact Scott County and East Tennessee?

The short answer is that it’s very unlikely our region experiences a direct impact from this tropical system.

Elsa is already the fifth named storm of the 2021 hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin, as the tropical season gets off to a very active start. If this quick start is a precursor of things to come, that may be bad news for the U.S. The pattern that’s currently in place (and looks to remain in place for much of if not all of summer), featuring extreme ridging and heat over portions of the Pacific Northwest and Canada while we see slightly below-average temperatures and above-average rainfall across much of the Southeast, also favors landfalling tropical systems along the U.S. coast. So this is going to be something to keep in mind and keep an eye on as we get deeper into the hurricane season, which won’t peak for a couple of more months yet.

For now, though, all eyes are on Tropical Storm Elsa. As of 5 p.m. this evening, she was packing maximum sustained winds of 70 mph with a minimum central pressure of 998mb as she slowly trudged west-northwest at 23 mph. Haiti was experiencing near-hurricane conditions, and a tropical storm warning is out for the entirety of Hispaniola, with the American National Hurricane Center cautioning that flash flooding and mudslides are possible in Jamaica. Significant flooding and mudslides are expected for Cuba, as well, before Elsa approaches the Florida Keys early next week.

For now, the official track from the NHC takes Elsa up the left coast of the Florida peninsula, to near the Big Bend area before she tracks inland and then heads towards the Atlantic coast. For now, the NHC’s forecast doesn’t have Elsa getting back out to sea where she’d have a chance to restrengthen; instead, the NHC keeps the storm just inland over Georgia and the Carolinas. All of the major models are more or less in line with the NHC’s official forecast track; none take the storm further west than the Big Bend area before it moves inland, and none take it as far west as Atlanta once it does move inland.

The NHC doesn’t currently expect Elsa to restrengthen into a hurricane before making landfall in Florida.

Given the current track of the storm, East Tennessee will not be directly impacted.

However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see rain next week. As Elsa tracks through the Southeast, a cold front will be moving through our region from the northwest, as we see a fairly deep trough for this time of year come into play. This is a continuing theme of the summer months, which is what’s keeping slightly above-average rainfall and slightly below-average temperatures in play for us. After sunny and hot conditions Monday and Tuesday, we’ll see likely chances of thunderstorms from Wednesday all the way into Saturday next week.

It won’t rain that entire time, of course. But we could see some healthy rainfall. As of right now, the GFS computer model is showing between 1.5 inches of rain and 2 inches of rain for most of Tennessee, including our area of the northern plateau, between next Wednesday and Sunday morning. The ECMWF model is a little drier, but not much so.

Eye to the Sky is a weather blog of the Independent Herald, written primarily by IH publisher Ben Garrett. Views expressed here are those of the authors and should not be considered substitute for official advisories, watches or warnings from the National Weather Service. For the latest, most up-to-date forecast information, see weather.gov/mrx.
Ben Garrett
Ben Garrett is Independent Herald editor. Contact him at bgarrett@ihoneida.com. Follow him on Twitter, @benwgarrett.

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