Tropical Storm Elsa forms east of the Caribbean

Tropical Storm Elsa, which formed Thursday morning over the Atlantic Ocean, is moving quickly toward the Caribbean, and South Florida is potentially in its path, according to the National Hurricane Center. Though it is too soon to determine what, if any, impacts could occur in Florida next week, officials encouraged residents to monitor the storm and make preparations.

This includes crews at the condo collapse in Surfside, where frequent bouts of lightning and thunderstorms already have forced the suspension of rescue efforts. Showers and thunderstorms remain in the forecast for the next several days in Surfside, the National Weather Service said.

As Elsa approaches, there is a risk of storm surge, wind, and rainfall impacts in the Florida Keys and portions of the Florida Peninsula early next week, the hurricane center said.

Elsa is forecast to drift west-northwest over open waters of the Caribbean Sea from Saturday through Monday, possibly entering the Gulf of Mexico around Tuesday.

AccuWeather meteorologists are concerned Elsa could strengthen quickly into a hurricane as it approaches the Windward Islands. If it develops into a hurricane, Elsa would become the first of the 2021 Atlantic season. Heavy rains could lead to isolated flash flooding and mudslides in the Caribbean.

The center of the storm was about 410 miles east-southeast of Barbados as of 5 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Rescue teams keep watch:Surfside rescue teams keep watchful eye on the Atlantic as system likely to become Tropical Storm Elsa

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 45 mph with higher gusts. Additional strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days.

The hurricane center forecast calls for winds up to 60 mph by Friday afternoon, which is 14 mph short of a Category 1 hurricane. A Category 1 hurricane has winds of 74 to 95 mph.

Elsa was moving toward the west-northwest at 29 mph as of Thursday afternoon. An even faster motion to the west-northwest is expected over the next 24 to 36 hours. On the forecast track, the system will pass near or over portions of the Windward Islands or the southern Leeward Islands on Friday, move into the eastern Caribbean Sea late Friday and Friday night and move near the southern coast of Hispaniola on Saturday.

Tropical storm warnings were issued for Barbados, Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Grenada and for portions of Haiti.

Elsa became the earliest E storm on record, beating out Edouard, which formed July 6, 2020. Elsa is the fifth tropical storm of the 2021 season in the Atlantic, following Ana, Bill, Claudette and Danny.

Is your friend an extremist? Facebook is asking some users about exposure to content.

Facebook is asking some U.S. userswhether they may have been exposed to extremist content, or if they are worried that someone they know might be becoming an extremist.

The social network said the queries are part of a test of its Redirect Initiative, which intends to combat violent extremism, the company confirmed Thursday.

“We are partnering with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and academic experts in this space and hope to have more to share in the future,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The test comes as the world’s largest social media network continues to face intense scrutiny from critics, experts and politicians to curb extremism across its platforms. A closer eye has been placed on Facebook in the U.S. after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 when supporters of then-President Donald Trump tried to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidency.

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Facebook banned Trump soon after the events and, in May, Facebook’s independent oversight board decided to uphold Trump’s ban on the platform and urged the platform to investigate what role it might have played in the Capitol riot.

One of the queries captured in a screenshot asks users, “Are you concerned that someone you know is becoming an extremist?”

That same query said, “We care about preventing extremism on Facebook. Others in your situation have received confidential support.”

Another query informs users that they may have been recently exposed to extremist content.

“Violent groups try to manipulate your anger and disappointment,” Facebook asks. “You can take action now to protect yourself and others.”

Both queries direct users to a support page.

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Facebook has repeatedly vowed “to enforce our policies and will remove content and accounts that violate our rules. We are providing these additional resources to give people exposed to this content more information and help others.

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