'Not a time to joyride:' 3 US states under tropical storm warning as Elsa nears landfall in Florida
- Elsa is now tracking off the Florida west coast where it is expected to make landfall on Wednesday morning with threats of storm surge flooding, strong winds, heavy rain and isolated tornadoes.
Hurricane Elsa has weakened into a tropical storm as it threatened Florida's northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday after brushing past the Tampa Bay region, which is highly vulnerable to storm surge. According to forecasters, Elsa is now tracking off the Florida west coast where it is expected to make landfall in the morning with threats of storm surge flooding, strong winds, heavy rain and isolated tornadoes.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis has been urging the residents to take the warnings seriously as the cyclone is expected to come ashore sometime between 8am and 9am. “We ask that you please take it seriously,” DeSantis said on Tuesday. “This is not a time to joyride because we do have hazardous conditions out there.”
Elsa briefly turned into a hurricane on Tuesday evening, causing concern for the state authorities as they were already struggling with the Florida condo collapse disaster, further complicating the search and rescue operation. According to the National Hurricane Center, Elsa’s maximum sustained winds stood at 120kmph early Wednesday when its core was 105km southwest of Tampa.
"Elsa is forecast to make landfall along the north Florida Gulf Coast by late Wednesday morning and then move across the south-eastern United States through Thursday," the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay office has issued a tornado watch for parts of Florida until 8am. Hurricane warnings remain in place even as the system weakened to a tropical storm on Wednesday. More than 12 million people across three states are under a tropical storm warning.
Forecasters have predicted that Elsa would slice across inland north Florida as a tropical storm with strong rains and wind before moving on to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia and then heading out in the Atlantic Ocean by Friday.