(NEW YORK) — Elsa, now a tropical storm, is forecast to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall near the Big Bend region along Florida’s west coast.
Landfall is expected around 8 or 9 a.m. Wednesday near Cedar Key.
Elsa is expected to bring winds up to 75 mph at landfall; storms with winds of 74 mph or higher are considered hurricanes.
The storm’s path is sparing Miami, where rescuers are still searching for victims of the deadly Surfside condo collapse.
Search and rescue efforts continued through the rain and wind overnight, pausing only briefly for lightning as per the law, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Tuesday. The wind has also hampered large cranes from moving heavy debris, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.
A hurricane warning is in effect along Florida’s northern Gulf Coast while a tornado watch has been issued from Miami to Tampa through 11 p.m.
The University of Florida in Gainesville has canceled all classes for Wednesday as Elsa closes in.
Tampa International Airport is suspending operations from 5 p.m. Tuesday until 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Storm surge could reach 3 to 5 feet along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Rainfall totals may climb to 6 to 8 inches across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas through Thursday.
The ground in many parts of the Sunshine State is already saturated after a 300% rain increase over the last two weeks, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez said Tuesday.
Residents should be prepared to be without power for the next few days, but widespread evacuations aren’t expected, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
After barreling through Florida, Elsa will weaken to a tropical storm or tropical depression as it moves through Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina.
By the end of the week, Elsa will bring rain and wind to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
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