Tropical Storm Elsa is back over water Tuesday as it is expected to move near the lower Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas as soon as the morning hours.
The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center has Elsa with winds of 60 miles per hour while sitting 50 miles south-southwest of Key West. The storm is moving north-northwest at 12 miles per hour.
Miami-Dade and Broward counties were out of the cone of concern for major impacts from Elsa, while a tropical storm warning remained in effect for the Florida Keys from Craig Key west to the Dry Tortugas, along with much of Florida’s west coast from Flamingo to the Ochlockonee River.
Gov. Ron DeSantis gave the update regarding the storm and the decision to demolish the remaining tower from the site of the June 24th tragedy.
A hurricane watch is in effect for portions of Florida’s Big Bend region from Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River. A tropical storm watch was in effect for west of the Ochlocknee River to Indian Pass.
“The landfall impact of this storm is likely to be north of Tampa Bay, and probably even north of Citrus County,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday. “Our plan is the same, we understand that this is just part of living in Florida.”
DeSantis expanded an existing state of emergency to cover a dozen counties that span an area of Florida where Elsa is expected to make a swift passage on Wednesday.
Mandatory evacuations in Monroe County were not expected for this storm, with parts of the Lower Keys getting tropical storm force winds late Monday night.
“We hope visitors will consider extending their stay through Wednesday, when we are expecting normal summertime conditions to resume,” Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi said. “We’re just asking folks to be out of harm’s way, out of the winds.”
Tropical Storm Elsa — though now over water — is still producing heavy rain over Cuba and is expected to near the lower Florida Keys by early Tuesday, forecasters said.
Some residents in the Florida Keys said they are going to stay and ride the storm out.
“I’ve lived down here 30 years; I’ve been through every hurricane. I never leave because I got to stay to protect my boat,” said a resident named Jack, who spoke with NBC 6 on Monday. “Yesterday we put on brand-new lines, put tarps on it.”
Elsa is forecast to move near or over portions of the west coast of Florida by late Tuesday and continuing into Wednesday.
Elsa made landfall in Cuba on Monday afternoon near Cienega de Zapata, a natural park with few inhabitants. It headed northwestward across the island, passing Havana just to the east.
There were no early reports of serious damage as Elsa passed over Cuba.
“The wind is blowing hard and there is a lot of rain. Some water is getting under the door of my house. In the yard the level is high, but it did not get into the house,” Lázaro Ramón Sosa, a craftsman and photographer who lives in the town of Cienega de Zapata, told The Associated Press by telephone.
Sosa said he saw some avocado trees fall nearby.
Though Havana missed the brunt of the storm, many people in the capital stayed in place.
“For now, I staying at home. We have to wait for the night and see exactly what happens,” Aida Herrera, who lives next to the Malecon boulevard facing the sea, told AP.
Elsa had spent Sunday and much of Monday sweeping parallel to Cuba’s southern coast before heading on to land, sparing most of the island from significant effects. As a precaution, Cuban officials had evacuated 180,000 people against the possibility of heavy flooding from a storm that already battered several Caribbean islands, killing at least three people.
Elsa was the first hurricane of the Atlantic season until Saturday morning and caused widespread damage on several eastern Caribbean islands Friday. As a tropical storm, it resulted in the deaths of one person on St. Lucia and of a 15-year-old boy and a 75-year-old woman in separate events in the Dominican Republic.
Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.
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