TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) – A hurricane watch was issued for parts of west Florida on Tuesday morning as Tropical Storm Elsa penetrated the Gulf and approached the Florida Keys, the National Hurricane Center said.
Hurricane monitoring affects Florida’s Gulf Coast from Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River. These include pinellas, the coastal regions of Pasco, Hernando and Citrus.
“A gust of hurricane force is not ruled out directly along the coast, but the wind should mostly stay below the hurricane force.” said Storm Team 8 meteorologist Amanda Holly.
At 5 p.m. ET, Elsa had maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour and was centered about 270 miles south of Tampa. The system moved north-northwest at a speed of 12 miles per hour, with tropical storm strength winds reaching up to 70 miles out from the center of the storm.
Elsa will be approaching the Florida Keys on Tuesday morning and will be driving near or across Florida’s Gulf Coast later on Tuesday and Wednesday. Brief reinforcement is expected and the storm could reach hurricane strength before it hits land in Florida. A slowdown is expected as soon as it moves inland, the hurricane center said.
“The biggest change is that the storm could be a little stronger overnight if it passes our coast or just off our coast, especially pinellas”, said Storm Team 8 meteorologist Leigh Spann. â€œIt can then have winds of 70 miles per hour. The main concerns have not changed – floods that are 3 to 5 feet above normal overnight, flood rain, fallen trees, and the occasional tornado. “
The storm is expected to drop 3 to 5 inches of rain over the Florida Keys and the southwest and western portions of the Florida Peninsula by Wednesday, with isolated maximums of 8 inches in some areas. The rain could lead to significant flooding and urban flooding, as well as some river flooding, the hurricane center said. The rest of Florida could see 2 to 4 inches of rain through Wednesday night, with maximums of 6 inches in isolation.
A storm surge warning applies to:
- West coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to Aucilla
River, including Tampa Bay
A tropical storm warning applies to:
- The Cuban provinces of Matanzas, Mayabeque, Havana and Artemisa
- The Florida Keys from Craig Key west to the Dry Tortugas
- West coast of Florida from Flamingo northwards to the Ochlockonee River
A hurricane watch applies to:
- Egmont Key to Steinhatchee River, Florida
A storm surge watch applies to:
- West of the Aucilla River to the Ochlockonee River, Florida
A tropical storm watch applies to:
- West of the Ochlockonee River to Indian Pass, Florida
- Mouth of the St. Marys River into South Santee River, South Carolina