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WUSF is part of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, which provides up-to-the minute weather and news reports during severe weather events on radio, online and on social media for 13 Florida Public Media stations. It’s available on WUSF 89.7 FM, online at WUSFNews.org and through the free Florida Storms app, which provides geotargeted live forecasts, information about evacuation routes and shelters, and live local radio streams.

Tropical Storm Winds Expected To Reach Tampa Bay Area By Tuesday Afternoon

Elsa ts_watch_warning Monday 11 AM.jpg
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph are likely along the coast, with 35 to 45 mph gusts possible within the watch and warning areas inland with the strongest bands.

The greater Tampa Bay region is under a tropical storm warning and a storm surge watch as Elsa continues on a track that should bring it to Florida late Monday and Early Tuesday.

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for several counties ahead of the storm and leaders from Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Hernando counties issued local emergency declarations as well. The storm is causing closures and cancellations across the greater Tampa Bay region as residents prepare for wind, rain and a possible storm surge.

Here’s the latest on Hurricane Elsa:

Location

As of 8 p.m. Monday, the storm was sweeping over western Cuba with strong rain and winds, and forecasters say it will move on to the Florida Keys on Tuesday and Florida’s central Gulf coast by Wednesday. The storm is moving over mainly rural areas to the east of Havana on Monday after making landfall near Cienega de Zapata, a natural park with few inhabitants.

By late afternoon, Elsa’s maximum sustained winds had slowed to 50 mph. Its core was about 45 miles southeast of Havana and moving to the northwest at 14 mph.

Forecast Track

Forecasters say the storm will weaken some while crossing over Cuba, but is likely to strengthen slightly as it moves toward Florida.

Tropical storm conditions are likely, especially in the lower Keys, starting tonight. Those conditions are on track to spread northward into Collier county during the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday and then into the Fort Myers and Charlotte county areas during the mid and late morning hours of Tuesday. The onset of tropical storm winds are most likely Tuesday afternoon in the Manatee and Sarasota county areas, reaching the Tampa/St. Pete metro late Tuesday afternoon. Conditions are likely to deteriorate along the Nature Coast Tuesday evening, when tropical storm conditions are possible there. Wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph are likely along the coast, with 35 to 45 mph gusts possible within the watch and warning areas inland with the strongest bands.

Much of the Florida Peninsula will be to the east of the storm's center. This places much of the state in a favorable position for isolated tornadoes. These brief tornadoes or waterspouts could occur over the Keys late Monday and spread over the rest of the state Tuesday through Wednesday morning.

Conditions are likely to improve statewide once Elsa moves northeastward into the Carolinas Wednesday afternoon or Wednesday night.

State of Emergency

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for the following counties: Alachua, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Columbia, Dixie, Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Monroe, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, Sumter, Suwanee, Taylor and Wakulla.

Commissioners in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando, Sarasota and Manatee counties have also declared a state of local emergency for their counties.

President Joe Biden issued a federal emergency declaration in Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties, the White House announced late Sunday.

Watches and Warnings

  • A tropical storm warning now covers the west coast of Florida up to the Suwannee River.
  • A Tropical storm watch has been extended into the Florida Panhandle to Indian Pass.
  • A storm surge warning is in effect from Bonita Beach northward to the Ochlockonee River. An inundation of 3 to 5 feet is possible in and around Tampa Bay up to the Nature Coast.

Storm Surge

  • Water levels may rise to between 1 and 3 feet above normally dry ground in places from the middle and lower Keys and northward to Bonita Beach.
  • Water levels may increase to 3 to 5 feet above dry ground on Tuesday from Bonita Beach northward to the mouth of the Ochlockonee River.
  • The surge is highly dependent on tidal cycles, can vary over short distances, and may not occur in all locations within the watch area. High tides are around midday Tuesday and during the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and may present the greatest potential for surge flooding along the coast.
  • Pinellas County has developed a tool to determine a property's risk from storm surge from Tropical Storm Elsa. Visit it here.
Elsa storm surge 5 p.m. Monday.jpg

Rainfall Projections

Heavy rainfall is likely to be the greatest impact from Elsa. Rainfall of two to four inches, with isolated amounts as high as six inches, are forecast directly from Elsa, which may result in areas of urban flash flooding and minor river flooding over the Florida Peninsula on Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

A separate front has been producing heavy rainfall over the holiday weekend, particularly from the Tampa/St. Petersburg areas northward to Orlando, Gainesville, and Jacksonville metro areas. These areas have had almost twice their average rainfall since the beginning of June and additional rain from Elsa would increase the possibility of flooding, especially in these areas.

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Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Flooding

A Flood warning has been issued for parts of the Little Manatee River. Pinellas County officials are also watching the levels at Brooker Creek, which is close to flood stage.

Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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