Live Updates: Tropical Storm Elsa nears hurricane strength as it lashes Florida

Tropical Storm Elsa is churning near Florida, lashing parts of the state as it moves north near the western coast. It is strengthening and is expected to become a hurricane before making landfall on Wednesday.

As of 2 p.m., Elsa was about 95 miles northwest of Key West and 180 miles south of Tampa, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center

A hurricane warning has been issued for Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River, Florida. Other areas are under tropical storm and storm surge watches and warnings. 

“Tropical storm conditions, dangerous storm surge and heavy rainfall are possible along the Florida Keys and portions of the west coast; along with isolated tornadoes in Florida,” forecasters said.  

The storm is strengthening before its expected landfall along the north Florida Gulf coast, according to forecasters. It will then move across the southeastern United States through Thursday, weakening as it pushes inland.

Tropical Storm Elsa starts lashing Florida 01:28