Hurricane Warning Issued from Nature Coast to Tampa as Elsa Strengthens Before Landfall
Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall with the Nature Coast early on Wednesday. So far, wind gusts as high as 60 mph have been observed in Key West, and those winds, heavy rain, and isolated tornadoes will spread north tonight and Wednesday through the peninsula.
A hurricane warning is in effect from the Nature Coast to Tampa. 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.
Tropical Storm warnings remain in effect throughout much of the Gulf Coast and in parts of the Big Bend region.
Meteorologists say a 3 to 5-foot storm surge is likely during the wee hours of Wednesday morning from Tampa Bay northward to the Big Bend of Florida near the time of high tide. The worst of the weather is expected to come to an end late Wednesday afternoon once the storm moves into Georgia and South Carolina.
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.