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Elsa Makes Landfall In Florida’s Big Bend

National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Watch Issued


Update 11 am

Elsa made landfall as a tropical storm late Wednesday morning along Florida’s Nature Coast in Taylor county with top sustained winds of 65 mph. Its winds are expected to weaken, but flash flooding and isolated tornadoes are possible Wednesday afternoon, especially in North-Central and Northeast Florida.

A feeder band far removed from the center of Elsa produced some of the state’s heaviest rainfall totals in parts of Southwest Florida. Estimates from radar and gauges are showing between 6 and 10 inches of rain has fallen from eastern Manatee and Hardee counties southward into Desoto, Charlotte, and Lee counties.

2 to 5 inches of rain has fallen in the Tampa/St. Pete metro areas east into Polk county, with localized amounts greater than a half foot in a small part of northwestern Hillsborough and southern Pasco counties. So far, rain amounts have been limited along most of the Atlantic coast, which has been farthest removed from the center of Elsa.

Tropical storm force gusts have been observed in Pinellas county northward to Cedar Key, between 45 and 60 mph at times Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Strong gusts near the St. Johns River in Jacksonville and along the beachfront in Duval, Nassau, and St. Johns counties have been near 40 mph as of late Wednesday morning.

Isolated tornadoes remain possible near the I-10 corridor from the Live Oak and Lake City areas to near Jacksonville, but the threat is slowly expected to diminish late Wednesday afternoon. Areas of flash flooding, along with gusts of 30 to 40 mph, were still possible from Ocala and Gainesville eastward to the First Coast Wednesday afternoon.

Residual bands are possible anywhere over the Peninsula until about midnight Wednesday night before Elsa pulls away into the Carolinas. There are currently no other areas in the tropical Atlantic that are likely to develop into a tropical depression or tropical storm over the next week.

Thousands Without Power, But No Reports Of Significant Damage

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says about 26,000 electric customers have lost power but there are no reports of significant structural damage.

“I think the impacts have been less than what we thought would be reasonable. So we’re fortunate. We saw a little bit of a wobble to the west when it was approaching Tampa Bay, which potentially minimized impacts there. It is going to go into our Big Bend area.”

No fatalities have been reported.

But DeSantis urges caution because many deaths have occurred following storms from downed power lines or carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Marion County Escapes Serious Damage From Elsa

Marion County prepared for high winds but so far at least has escaped serious damage from Tropical Storm Elsa.

A Sheriff’s Office spokesman says there have been no reports of damage from the storm. And winds in the Dunnellon area were around 16 miles an hour, not the 50-plus previously forecast.

About 100 customers lost power.

The latest track from the National Hurricane Center has Elsa making landfall later today farther up the Florida Gulf coast.

Update 8:30 AM EDT Wednesday: 

Wind gusts to 57 mph have been reported at Cedar Key shortly after 7 o’clock this morning. Tropical Storm and Storm Surge Warnings have been discontinued south of Sarasota county, but continue farther north along the coast. The center of Elsa is 35 miles from Cedar Key and it’s expected to make landfall along the Dixie or Taylor county coasts around midday. Much of the weather extends east of the center, including flooding rain in the Fort Myers area, heavy rain from The Villages to Ocala and Gainesville, and heavier bands along the east coast from the Space Coast north to near St. Augustine.

Update 5:30 AM EDT Wednesday: 

Elsa has top sustained winds of 60 mph and is located 50 miles south-southwest of Cedar Key and 70 miles west-northwest of Tampa. Hurricane Warnings continue for Citrus county north to the Steinhatchee River.  Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect west of Steinhatchee River to the Ochlockonee River, and from Hernando county south to Englewood.

The heaviest rain band is trailing the circulation, from the Fort Myers area north to Lakeland, Orlando, The Villages and northward toward Ocala, Gainesville, and the Nature Coast. Isolated tornadoes and flash flooding are likely in the band. Occasional gusts of 40 to 50 mph are possible.

Heavy rain is expected to arrive in Northeast Florida and the Jacksonville area after sunrise and lasting through the day today.

The rain bands will begin to diminish around midnight as the storm moves into the Carolinas.

2 a.m. Update: Elsa Weakens To Tropical Storm

Elsa has weakened to a Tropical Storm according to the National Hurricane Center. Heavy rains and gusty winds are spreading inland across Southwest and West Central Florida.

At 2 a.m. Elsa was located about 60 miles West of Tampa, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, with the center of the storm moving North at about 14 mph.

A storm surge warning remained in effect for the West Coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay. A hurricane warning is in effect for Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River.

A few tornadoes are possible overnight across the western and central Florida Peninsula. Elsa is forecast to make landfall along the north Florida Gulf coast by late Wednesday morning and then move across the southeastern United States through Thursday.

Tornado Watch Issued For Parts of Florida

A Tornado Watch has been issued for parts of Florida until 8am. The watch area includes Orlando, Kissimmee, Deltona and Ocala. Isolated gusts up to 70 mph are possible.

Meanwhile a Tropical Storm watch remains in effect for Leesburg, Mt. Dora  and The Villages. Tropical storm force winds remain possible with gusts 50 t0 60 mph in squalls.

Elsa is expected to make landfall between Tampa Bay and the Big Bend early Wednesday.

Officials: Storm lashing Florida strengthens into hurricane

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Weather forecasters say a storm that has been lashing Florida over the past day has intensified into a hurricane.

The National Weather Service said Tuesday that Hurricane Elsa was packing winds as high as 75 mph (121 kph) as it hurtled toward Florida’s northern Gulf Coast.

The Category 1 storm is expected to make landfall between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Wednesday, somewhere between the Tampa Bay area and the Big Bend region.

Hurricane Warning Issued from Nature Coast to Tampa as Elsa Strengthens Before Landfall

By Jeff Huffman, FPREN

Update 5 pm Tuesday: There were no significant changes to Elsa’s intensity or forecast track. The Tropical Storm Warning east of the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys was discontinued. The storm continued to produce winds up to 70 mph and was moving north at 10 mph.

There is an increasing risk of numerous power outages from Elsa near the Gulf Coast from Clearwater to Cedar Key Tuesday night, with spotty power outages possible farther inland across portions of North-Central Florida Wednesday.

A Hurricane Warning was issued from Steinhatchee River to Egmont Key, as Tropical Storm Elsa is now expected to become a hurricane prior to landfall along the Nature Coast early Wednesday.

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, Tropical Storm Elsa was found to have maximum winds of 70 mph, which was based on Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft observations and nearby radar data. While conditions are not conducive for significant strengthening, the National Hurricane Center upgraded the watch to a warning in a special advisory Tuesday afternoon, stating that “only a slight increase in intensity” would result in Elsa becoming a hurricane.

Shortly before the special advisory was issued, a Tornado Watch was also issued for much of South Florida and Central Florida until 11 p.m. EDT Tuesday evening.

There were no significant changes to the forecast track or overall impacts expected from Tropical Storm Elsa with the special advisory. As expected, the storm has begun to move north, where a path parallel to the west coast of Florida will continue Tuesday evening, followed by an eventual landfall along the Nature Coast early Wednesday.

A Storm Surge Warning continues from Bonita Beach northward to the Apalachee Bay, where a life-threatening storm surge is possible from the persistent onshore winds on Elsa’s eastern side. Swift water flooding of 3 to 5 feet above dry ground is possible from Aucilla River to Englewood, including all of the Nature Coast and Tampa Bay. A 2 to 4 foot storm surge is expected for areas farther south to Bonita Beach, with 1 to 3 feet of flooding possible south of there into the Florida Bay and Florida Keys.

A Tropical Storm Warning continues for all Gulf Coast counties in Florida from Flamingo northward to the Ocholockonee River, and from Craig Key westward to Key West. The warning has also been expanded eastward to include inland areas of North Florida from Lake City to Gainesville to Ocala. Trropical storm force winds in the 40 to 60 mph range are likely in the warned areas as the heaviest rain bands from Elsa rotate through. Wind gusts up to 50 mph are possible farther inland across sections of north and central Florida, also co-located with the heaver rain bands, where the watches are in effect.

A few tornadoes may occur from Tropical Storm Elsa’s circulation as far east as the Atlantic Coast Tuesday afternoon. Some of the outer rain bands and squalls may acquire rotation as they pinwheel farther away from the storm’s center and encounter a more unstable environment from less cloud cover and warmer afternoon temperatures. Areas most at risk for this to occur are roughly near and east of the I-75 corridor in North Florida and along and east of the Florida Turnpike in Central Florida. Waterspouts and brief tornadoes may also occur from the outer rain bands closer to Elsa’s center along Florida’s west coast too.

Flash flooding is possible from Tropical Storm Elsa, although the steady forward motion of the storm should prevent it from becoming a widespread hazard. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are expected across the western half of the Florida peninsula, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches possible. 1 to 3 inches of rain are possible across the eastern side of the state and in eastern portions of the Florida Panhandle from Elsa.

Tropical Storm Elsa is forecast to weaken after the storm moves inland across North Florida Wednesday morning, likely being downgraded to a Tropical Depression as it crosses the border into southeast Georgia Wednesday afternoon. However, enhancements to the typical afternoon downpours may continue well into Wednesday and Thursday across the Florida peninsula thanks to a deep flow of moisture on the southern and eastern side of the tropical storm.

DeSantis: State Emergency Operations Center Fully Operational

By Abe Aboraya, WMFE

The Biden administration has approved Florida’s disaster declaration request ahead of Elsa’s landfall.

As of 6 p.m., about 3,000 people statewide were already without power. Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state’s emergency operations center is fully operational.

“The total counties under state of emergency are now at 33,” DeSantis said. “The state EOC here has moved to a level one, so that’s 24-hour operations. And we did that partially because of the impacts to more rural, fiscally constrained counties.”

DeSantis is asking residents to turn on weather alerts on their phones. Landfall is expected along the Nature Coast, north of Tampa, sometime overnight or early Wednesday.

“But if you look at how lopsided this storm is, anything east of the eye will have some storm impacts for sure,” DeSantis said.

Kevin Guthrie, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said residents that experience storm damage should document the damage before starting cleanup.

“Make sure you take pictures before you start cleaning up, especially if you have any type of flooding,” Guthrie said. “Flooding only lasts temporary, so it’s very important to get those high-water marks, the flood marks on your home, take them very, very quickly.”

If you are without power, make sure generators are away from your home and open windows. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office: ‘This is Florida, and this is a storm. It could change in an hour’

By Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Marion County is likely to be the county in Central Florida hit hardest by Elsa, which could make landfall as a hurricane Wednesday morning.

Marion County Sheriff’s spokesman Sergeant Paul Bloom spoke with WMFE’s Joe Byrnes about the storm and what Marion County residents can expect.

BYRNES: Tell us what people in Marion County can expect as the storm approaches.

BLOOM: Well, Marion County is a very large county, 1,600 square miles as a matter of fact, so the folks living in the eastern portion of our county are not going to see the same results and effects as those living in the western and southwestern portions. And that southwestern portion is where our focus is, because that is what we’re being told about the National Weather Service is where the most impact is going to happen.

So this is going to include the area along that Highway 41 corridor, which would include the Dunnellon, Chatmire, Lake Tropicana, the Rainbow Lakes Estates area. If you live along there, be prepared for some really severe thunderstorm-type weather. And this is, again, this is Florida, and this is a storm. So it could change in an hour two hours from now. So keep an eye on it.

What we’re being told now is severe thunderstorm weather. Expect winds even up to the mid- 50s, and miles per hour. So storms like that we have in the summertime a lot and may get up to 40, 50, 60 mile an hour wind for a short time. However, this will be over a period of about three hours. So the potential there for some damage exists. I know a lot of that area out there has had more than a couple feet of rain over the last several weeks. So ground is saturated, and with some more rain, especially maybe up to six inches of rain with this. And that could cause if you have some trees in the yard, maybe that soil is soft. And then a wind comes in, we lose some trees, and with that, some power lines.

So right now, our focus is on that on that southwestern portion and making sure those folks are safe. Our main concern here is is those that are most vulnerable. That’s going to be our folks that have an oxygen machine, for instance, that rely on electricity.

BYRNES: Now the county has taken a step in that direction, right, doing something to help those folks?

BLOOM: That’s right, we’ve opened up a special needs shelter, and that’s going to be at the Westport High School. And that is designed to for the folks that can’t find room with their family, friends or even a hotel. And they need to come there. We’re going to get them there. We’ve teamed up with the Marion County Public Schools, and they’re providing buses to help transport folks that have special needs to that shelter should they need it. The Health Department is assisting us as well. They’re at the shelter, the medical staff there that are volunteering and helping. So that’s our main concern making sure those folks don’t lose power to that vital equipment.

BYRNES: About what time will Marion County begin to feel impacts from Elsa?

BLOOM: So we’re being told right now, it’s gonna be the early morning hours, tomorrow morning. And really anywhere from 3am to 9am. So with the, I guess, the peak, you would say of that impact in Marion County, being right around 6 a.m. So right about daybreak is where you will see the peak of this. So if you plan on traveling or anything, plan accordingly, because that’s when it’s going to be the most storm hitting you. But it’s moving pretty quickly. So we expect by noon, tomorrow, really the storm is gonna be to the north of us, out of the way. Which is good, we’ll get it out of here. But hopefully in the meantime, folks are prepared and they’re taking care of things. But with these winds we’re really again, these folks living in the southwest, if you have lawn furniture outside, a trampoline, basketball goal or something like that, secure that because it’s those are the things that’s going to cause damage or get lost. And so just take those precautions and make those steps and we’ll get through this.

4:00 p.m. Update: Elsa strengthening, winds up to 70 mph

By Jeff Huffman, FPREN

Tropical storm Elsa is strengthening now, with winds up to 70 miles per hour.

The pressure has dropped to 1,000 millibars. Elsa is located about 180 miles south of Tampa Bay expected to re-strengthen  into a Category 1 hurricane before it makes landfall overnight somewhere along the Nature Coast.

Hurricane warnings have been issued along the Nature Coast from the Steinhatchee River all the way down to Egmont Key.

2:30 p.m. Update: Hurricane Warning Issued From Nature Coast To Tampa

Jeff Huffman, FPREN

A Hurricane Warning was issued from Steinhatchee River to Egmont Key, as Tropical Storm Elsa is now expected to become a hurricane prior to landfall along the Nature Coast early Wednesday.

As of 2 pm Tuesday, Tropical Storm Elsa was found to have maximum winds of 70 mph, which was based on Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft observations and nearby radar data. While conditions are not conducive for significant strengthening, the National Hurricane Center upgraded the watch to a warning in a special advisory Tuesday afternoon, stating that “only a slight increase in intensity” would result in Elsa becoming a hurricane.

There were no significant changes to the forecast track or overall impacts expected from Tropical Storm Elsa with the special advisory. As expected, the storm has begun to move north, where a path parallel to the west coast of Florida will continue Tuesday evening, followed by an eventual landfall along the Nature Coast early Wednesday.

A Storm Surge Warning continues from Bonita Beach northward to the Apalachee Bay, where a life-threatening storm surge is possible from the persistent onshore winds on Elsa’s eastern side. Swift water flooding of 3 to 5 feet above dry ground is possible from Aucilla River to Englewood, including all of the Nature Coast and Tampa Bay. A 2 to 4 foot storm surge is expected for areas farther south to Bonita Beach, with 1 to 3 feet of flooding possible south of there into the Florida Bay and Florida Keys.

A Tropical Storm Warning continues for all Gulf Coast counties in Florida from Flamingo northward to the Ocholockonee River, and from Craig Key westward to Key West. The warning has also been expanded eastward to include inland areas of North Florida from Lake City to Gainesville to Ocala.  Trropical storm force winds in the 40 to 60 mph range are likely in the warned areas as the heaviest rain bands from Elsa rotate through. Wind gusts up to 50 mph are possible farther inland across sections of north and central Florida, also colocated with the heaver rain bands, where the watches are in effect.

A few tornadoes may occur from Tropical Storm Elsa’s circulation as far east as the Atlantic Coast Tuesday afternoon . Some of the outer rain bands and squalls may acquire rotation as they pinwheel farther away from the storm’s center and encounter a more unstable environment from less cloud cover and warmer afternoon temperatures. Areas most at risk for this to occur are roughly near and east of the I-75 corridor in North Florida and along and east of the Florida Turnpike in Central Florida. Waterspouts and brief tornadoes may also occur from the outer rain bands closer to Elsa’s center along Florida’s west coast too.

Flash flooding is possible from Tropical Storm Elsa, although the steady forward motion of the storm should prevent it from becoming a widespread hazard. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are expected across the western half of the Florida peninsula, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches possible. 1 to 3 inches of rain are possible across the eastern side of the state and in eastern portions of the Florida Panhandle from Elsa.

Tropical Storm Elsa is forecast to weaken after the storm moves inland across North Florida Wednesday morning, likely being downgraded to a Tropical Depression as it crosses the border into southeast Georgia Wednesday afternoon. However, enhancements to the typical afternoon downpours may continue well into Wednesday and Thursday across the Florida peninsula thanks to a deep flow of moisture on the southern and eastern side of the tropical storm

Marion County opening special needs shelter at West Port High School

By Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Marion County is opening a special needs shelter at West Port High School at 4 p.m. today.

It is intended especially for residents in the western-most parts of Marion County who need electricity for medical care such as oxygen machines.

But there is also a limited amount of room for residents in RV’s or mobile homes who have no other place to go.

Marion County emergency managers say impacts from the storm could be felt beginning late this evening and continuing into the morning hours Wednesday.

Lake, Marion and Sumter counties have all declared a state of emergency ahead of Elsa. Lake and Sumter counties do not have any open shelters at this time.

Sumter County residents can continue to pick up sandbags until dusk at the Lake Panasoffkee Recreation Center.

Residents can expect downed trees and power lines and severe thunderstorm-like weather.

Flights Canceled at Orlando International Airport As Elsa Approaches

Danielle Prieur, WMFE News

Officials at Orlando International Airport say a total of 25 flights have been canceled at the airport ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa. 

Fourteen of these flights were meant to arrive at the airport today while 11 were supposed to depart.

In total, some 3,000 passengers’ travel plans at MCO have been affected.

Passengers should check with their individual airline carriers before arriving at the airport to see if their flight has been changed.

The storm comes as the airport expects to welcome some 1.5 million travelers over the 4th of July holiday, which runs through July 7th, the largest number since before the pandemic.

Sumter County declares state of emergency

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Sumter County has declared a state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa.

The county also announced that sand and sandbags are available at the Lake Panasoffkee Recreation Center until dusk. Residents will need to fill the bags themselves.

Public schools and food service programs will be closed Wednesday due to the storm.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Sumter County. The National Weather Services predicts peak winds of 20-30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph.

Marion County Cancels Summer School Classes Due To Tropical Storm Elsa

By Joe Byrnes, WMFE

(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Marion County has announced that summer school classes will be closed on Wednesday because of the storm, which is expected to impact the area in the morning.

Lake and Sumter counties have also canceled summer school for the day.

And School District employees have been instructed to work from home.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Paul Bloom said the biggest concern is for the western-most areas of Marion County, including Dunnellon.

They’re going to have winds that may reach the area of the 50 mph — 50 to 60 — so. We see that sometimes in an afternoon thunderstorm here, but this will be sustained for a longer period of time, maybe even four hours,” Bloom said.

K-12 Public schools in Lake County will also be closed Wednesday, July 7, because of Hurricane Elsa. Lake-Sumter State College will also be closed because of the storm. Check here for current school closures statewide.

“Please note that during this time there will be no access to any facilities on [Lake-Sumter State College] campuses,” the school wrote in a note for students and staff. “For your safety and others, do not attempt to visit any LSSC campus during this closure.

The winds and heavy rains from Elsa could bring down a lot of trees and knock out power. Bloom says the Sheriff’s Office is ready to help people relocate who may have a medical need for electricity.

Marion County has sandbag stations set up during daylight hours at Souls Harbor Church in Dunnellon and the Martel Recycling Center off State Road 40 west of Ocala.

The county has set up a Citizens Information Line. Call 352-369-7500.

Update as of 11:00 AM Tuesday:

Ray Hawthorne, FPREN

The Tropical Storm Watch has been discontinued from the Ochlockonee River west to Indian Pass in the Florida Panhandle.

Top sustained winds remain near 60 mph and Elsa’s forward motion is slower — toward the north-northwest near 10 mph. The slower storm motion has delayed the arrival of tropical storm force winds along the Collier, Lee, and Charlotte county coasts until this afternoon. The arrival of tropical storm winds are expected in Sarasota, Manatee, and the Tampa/St. Pete metro areas early this evening. These winds are likely to arrive near the Nature Coast overnight and into North-Central and Northeast Florida Wednesday morning. Wind gusts as high as 65 mph are possible from the Tampa/St. Pete areas northward into the Nature Coast.

National Hurricane Center

A storm surge of 3 to 5 feet above normally dry ground is possible near the Tampa Bay area to the Nature Coast near the time of high tide during the wee-hours of Wednesday morning.

Isolated tornadoes are possible Tuesday night into Wednesday over much of the Florida Peninsula. 2 to 5 inches of rainfall with isolated maximum amounts of up to 8 inches may result in flash flooding, urban flooding, and minor river flooding anywhere in the Peninsula.

Strong wind gusts of 45 to 60 mph are possible as far inland as The Villages, Ocala, Gainesville, and Lake City during Wednesday morning, which may result in power outages. Tropical Storm Watches are in effect for Clay county and on the western side of Jacksonville, where wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph are possible during the day Wednesday.

Marion County Anticipates Tropical Storm Force Winds, Provides Sandbags

Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Updated at 9:30 a.m.: The western portions of Marion County could have sustains winds above 39 per hour for a few hours tonight and Wednesday from Tropical Storm Elsa.

The storm will also bring heavy rains onto already saturated ground.

And Marion County is providing sandbags at two locations during daylight hours. You can fill the sandbags at Souls Harbor Church in Dunnellon and the Martel Recycling Center off State Road 40 west of Ocala.

Update as of 5:30 AM Tuesday: Tropical Storm Elsa Approaches Florida, Hurricane Watch Issued

Ray Hawthorne & Jeff Huffman, FPREN

A Hurricane Watch has been issued from Egmont Key northward to the Steinhatchee River. Elsa is most likely to remain a tropical storm at landfall along Florida’s Nature Coast early Wednesday morning, but there is a small chance it could reach hurricane status. Tropical Storm Warnings continue for the lower and middle Keys northward through the entire west coast of Florida to the Ochlockonee River in the Panhandle. Tropical Storm Watches remain in effect west of the Ochlockonee River to Indian Pass.

There is little change to the forecast track of Elsa. It is forecast to make landfall Wednesday morning along the Nature Coast. However, the forecast of the storm’s center is indicated by the cone; significant effects will extend outside the cone and to the east of the center.

Original Story from 12:30 AM Tuesday:

Tropical Storm Elsa emerged over the warm waters of the Florida Straits Monday night, where some strengthening was expected as it reaches the Florida Keys Tuesday morning. Storm surge flooding and minor wind damage are becoming increasing likely along Florida’s Gulf Coast from the Big Bend to Naples Tuesday into Wednesday as Elsa passes by.

As of 11 pm Monday, Tropical Storm Elsa’s maximum sustained winds were up to 60 mph and the storm was moving NNW at 12 mph. The forecast track has remained largely unchanged, with a turn to the north expected Tuesday west of Fort Myers and a path parallel to the west coast of Florida Tuesday night and eventual landfall along the Nature Coast or Big Bend regions.

The arrival time of Elsa’s tropical storm coastal impacts are summarized below:
  • Key West: pre-dawn hours Tuesday
  • Naples/Fort Myers: sunrise Tuesday
  • Sarasota/Bradenton: late morning Tuesday
  • Tampa/Lakeland: midday Tuesday
  • Nature Coast: Tuesday night
  • Big Bend: early Wednesday morning

A Storm Surge Warning was issued late Monday afternoon from Bonita Beach northward to the Apalachee Bay, where a life-threatening storm surge is possible from the persistent onshore winds on Elsa’s eastern side. Swift water flooding of 3 to 5 feet above dry ground is possible from Aucilla River to Englewood, including all of the Nature Coast and Tampa Bay. A 2 to 4 foot storm surge is expected for areas farther south to Bonita Beach, with 1 to 3 feet of flooding possible south of there into the Florida Bay and Florida Keys.

A Tropical Storm Warning continues for all Gulf Coast counties in Florida from Flamingo northward to the Ocholockonee River, and from Craig Key westward to Key West. Tropical storm force winds in the 40 to 60 mph range are likely in the warned areas as the heaviest rain bands from Elsa rotate through.

A few tornadoes may occur from Tropical Storm Elsa’s circulation as far east as the Atlantic Coast Tuesday afternoon . Some of the outer rain bands and squalls may acquire rotation as they pinwheel farther away from the storm’s center and encounter a more unstable environment from less cloud cover and warmer afternoon temperatures. Areas most at risk for this to occur are roughly near and east of the I-75 corridor in North Florida and along and east of the Florida Turnpike in Central Florida. Waterspouts and brief tornadoes may also occur from the outer rain bands closer to Elsa’s center along Florida’s west coast too.

Flash flooding is possible from Tropical Storm Elsa, although the steady forward motion of the storm should prevent it from becoming a widespread hazard. Rainfall amounts of 2 to 4 inches are expected across the western half of the Florida peninsula, with isolated amounts up to 6 inches possible. 1 to 3 inches of rain are possible across the eastern side of the state and in eastern portions of the Florida Panhandle from Elsa.

Tropical Storm Elsa is forecast to weaken after the storm moves inland across North Florida Wednesday morning, likely being downgraded to a Tropical Depression as it crosses the border into southeast Georgia Wednesday afternoon. However, enhancements to the typical afternoon downpours may continue well into Wednesday and Thursday across the Florida peninsula thanks to a deep flow of moisture on the southern and eastern side of the tropical storm.

Copyright 2021 WUFT 89.1. To see more, visit WUFT 89.1.

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