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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 Watch Extends To Tampa Bay Area As Elsa Tracks Toward Florida

Elsa 8 pm Sunday (FPREN).jpg
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

A tropical storm watch is in place for much of the Florida west coast. A storm surge watch was also issued from Bonita Beach northward to the Suwannee River.

Much of the greater Tampa Bay region is now under a tropical storm watch 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 and Pinellas counties on Sunday issued local emergency declarations as well.

Cuba has evacuated 180,000 people amid fears that Tropical Storm Elsa could cause heavy flooding as it passes over the island Sunday night and through Monday, after battering several Caribbean islands, killing at least three people.

Here’s the latest on Hurricane Elsa:

Location

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, the storm was located about 70 miles east of Kingston Jamaica and had maximum sustained winds of about 60 mph. The was moving about 10 mph Sunday morning. It had been moving as fast as about 30 mph on Saturday. Tropical cyclones, on average, move between 10 and 15 mph, so Elsa is now moving at a pace that is more common. Tropical Storm Warnings continued over Jamaica and a large portion of Cuba, where tropical storm conditions are expected to continue on occasion through Monday.

Forecast Track

There have been few changes to the forecast track, which takes Elsa over Cuba Sunday night and Monday and into the Gulf of Mexico Monday evening.

The storm itself has become disorganized in the face of strong wind shear and its close pass to Haiti on Saturday. Its interaction with Cuba Sunday night and Monday is likely to cause additional weakening before it emerges over the Florida Straits Monday night. A small amount of re-strengthening is possible in the Gulf of Mexico, but strong wind shear is expected to keep the heaviest rain and winds east of the circulation center and most likely prevent Elsa from regaining hurricane strength.

The first rain bands from Elsa over the Florida Keys are expected Monday afternoon, where Tropical Storm Watches remain in effect. Tropical storm force winds are likely, particularly over the lower and middle Keys late Monday afternoon into Monday night. The slower storm motion means any tropical storm force winds over South Florida would hold off until overnight Monday or at first light on Tuesday, favoring the Gulf side.

Tropical storm conditions are possible as far north as Tampa and Orlando Tuesday evening, and then from the Nature Coast into north-central and northeast Florida overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. If tropical storm winds were to occur, they would be more likely on the Gulf of Mexico side of the peninsula Tuesday night, but would then shift to Florida's First Coast on Wednesday as the storm turns more toward the northeast.

State of Emergency

On Saturday afternoon, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for the following counties: Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota.

On Sunday, commissioners in Pinellas and Manatee counties meet to declare a local state of emergency for their counties.

Watches And Warnings

  • A Tropical Storm Watch has been extended northward and includes much of the Florida west coast to the Anclote River. The Fort Myers, Sarasota, and Tampa areas are included Tropical Storm Watch.
  • Tropical Storm Warnings continue for the Florida Keys from Craig Key westward, and Watches continue for the remainder of the Keys to the east of Craig Key.
  • A Storm Surge Watch has been issued from Bonita Beach northward to the Suwannee River, including Tampa Bay.
Elsa_Wind_Advisories_5PM_Sun.jpg

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 2 to 4 feet above dry ground on Tuesday from Bonita Beach northward to the mouth of the Suwannee River, including Tampa Bay.
Elsa_Surge_Watch_5PMSun.jpg

Rainfall Projections

Heavy rainfall is likely to be the greatest impact from Elsa. Widespread rainfall of two to five inches are forecast directly from Elsa, which may result in areas of urban flash flooding and minor river flooding over the Florida Peninsula early this week.

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.

Flooding

  • A Flood warning has been issued for parts of the Manatee River.

Closures

The University of South Florida announced on Saturday that all classes will be delivered remotely on Tuesday. Residence halls and dining facilities at the Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses will remain open. In-person classes were scheduled to resume on Wednesday.

Sandbags

Hillsborough
Available daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Limit is 10 bags per family and identification or utility bill required to prove residency)

  • Edward Medard Conservation Park, 6140 Turkey Creek Road, Plant City
  • E.G. Simmons Conservation Park, 2401 19th Ave. NW, Ruskin
  • Ed Radice Park, 14720 Ed Radice Drive, Tampa

Hernando:
Available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Linda Pedersen Park, 6300 Shoal Line Blvd., Spring Hill

Pasco:
Available 24 hours a day.

  • W.H. Jack Mitchell, Jr., Park: 4825 Little Road, New Port Richey
  • Veterans Memorial Park: 14333 Hicks Road, Hudson
  • Magnolia Valley Golf Course: 7223 Massachusetts Avenue, New Port Richey
  • Pasco County Public Works (C-Barn): 30908 Warder Road, San Antonio

Pinellas Park
Available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

  • Helen Howarth Park: 6301 94th Ave N. Pinellas Park, FL
  • Pinebrook Park: 7202 118th Ave N. Pinellas Park, FL

Tampa
Available 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday (Limit is 10 bags per family and identification or utility bill required to prove residency)

  • Al Barnes Park South, 2902 N. 32nd St.
  • Himes Avenue Complex, 4501 S. Himes Ave.
  • MacFarlane Park, 1700 North MacDill Avenue

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

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