As It Approaches Florida, Elsa Weakened To A Tropical Storm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After ripping over the Tampa Bay region with strong gusts and heavy rain, Elsa weakened to a tropical storm and threatened Florida’s northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday.

The cyclone is expected to hit Florida between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., according to Gov. Ron DeSantis. From Egmont Key near the mouth of Tampa Bay to the Steinhatchee River, a hurricane warning was in force for a lengthy stretch of coastline.

“Please take it seriously,” the Republican governor urged reporters in Tallahassee on Tuesday. “This is not the time to go for a joyride since the circumstances are hazardous.”

In the Tampa Bay area, which is particularly vulnerable to storm surge, there were no early reports of damage or casualties. The strongest winds were predicted to stay just offshore of the coastal resorts west of St. Petersburg.

Early Wednesday, Elsa’s highest sustained winds were 70 mph (115 kph). It is located around 60 miles (95 kilometers) southwest of Tampa at its epicenter. According to the National Hurricane Center, it was heading north at 14 mph (22 km).

Elsa is expected to cut over interior North Florida as a tropical storm with severe rainfall and winds, then continue on to Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia before moving out to sea by Friday, according to forecasters.

As Elsa neared Tampa, schools and government offices were shuttered, and most public activities were postponed. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, on the other hand, anticipated that Wednesday night’s Stanley Cup finals game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens will go on as planned.

She stated, “We’re quite sure.”

According to its website, Tampa International Airport halted operations at 5 p.m. Tuesday and expected to restart flights at 10 a.m. Wednesday following a storm damage assessment.

lgnews-As-It-Approaches-FloridaIn a statement, Duke Energy, the area’s primary electric provider, said it had roughly 3,000 employees, contractors, tree specialists, and support people ready to respond to power disruptions caused by the storm. More crews were being brought in from Duke’s other states of operation.

Todd Fountain, the utility’s Florida hurricane director, said, “We’re trained and prepared, and we want to guarantee our customers are safe and prepared for any consequences from the storm.”

Elsa raced over the Florida Keys earlier Tuesday but avoided a direct strike on the low-lying island chain. Even yet, heavy rains and high gusts were forecast for the Keys through Wednesday.

The search for potential survivors and victims in the June 24 collapse of a Miami-area condominium was also hampered by the storm. Despite the difficulties, workers continued to search for survivors amid the wreckage of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, on the state’s southeast coast.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for a stretch of the coast of Brunswick in Georgia, with sustained gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph) forecast in areas of southeast Georgia, according to the National Hurricane Center.

On Tuesday, Glynn County Emergency Management Agency Director Alec Eaton told the Brunswick News, “Right now, we’re basically looking at a gloomy, wet, and windy day.” “I’m certain we’ll be able to settle down and let it pass us by without any big consequences. Hopefully.”

Emergency authorities in South Carolina were keeping an eye on Elsa to the north, but no evacuations were required during the busy summer beach vacation season.

The storm was anticipated to move inland, but coastal forecasters warned that the worst weather would be on the storm’s east side, which may drop up to 5 inches of rain and bring wind gusts of up to 55 mph (88 kph) in locations like Hilton Head Island, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach.

Earlier this week, Cuban officials evacuated 180,000 people to avoid catastrophic floods caused by a hurricane that had already wreaked havoc on numerous Caribbean islands, killing at least three people.

According to Brian McNoldy, a hurricane specialist at the University of Miami, Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record.

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