KANSAS CITY, Mo.– Tropical Storm Elsa, the fifth-named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, continues to move north parallel to the Gulf Coast of Florida on Tuesday afternoon.
Over the past 24 hours, Elsa moved over the Florida Keys, bringing heavy rain, storm surge, and strong wind to those areas this morning, with the island of Cuba seeing similar effects from Elsa on Monday.
Three people have unfortunately died in the Caribbean thanks to this storm.
The 2 p.m. update on Elsa from the National Hurricane Center showed 70 mph winds near the center of circulation, meaning that after meandering in Tropical Storm status for the last few days, Elsa is growing stronger once again.
The forecasted track hasn’t changed much from this morning, but the intensity expectations are increasing somewhat with the update. Elsa is now expected to regain hurricane status (or come very close to it) as a Category 1 storm when it makes landfall early Wednesday. Elsa could become a hurricane as early as tonight.
Hurricane warnings have now been issued from the Tampa, Florida area northward in anticipation of the slightly stronger forecast.
After landfall, weakening to a tropical storm will occur once again as it turns northeast towards Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. New York and Massachusetts (and anyone who’s travelling to the northeast at the end of the week) may need to keep eyes on this storm as it could come close to those states.
Outside of storm surge along the coast, flooding rains and a tornado risk are coming for Florida. Tornado watches are already posted for south central Florida this afternoon, with more to come as Elsa continues moving north. Rain totals on the order of 6-plus inches are very possible in spots between now and Thursday as well.
Please check on anyone you know or vacationing down in Florida over the next couple of days. Watch out for flight cancellations or changes if you’re flying through or to the state as well.