Live Updates: Tropical Storm Elsa lashes Florida’s Gulf Coast

Elsa, which is now a tropical storm, is hitting Florida with heavy rain and wind as it moves across the state after lashing the Tampa Bay region. The National Hurricane Center said in its 5 a.m. Eastern advisory that the storm was tracking northward almost parallel to Florida’s coastline, and a hurricane warning remained in effect across a stretch of the coast from Chassahowitzka to the Steinhatchee River.

Forecasters said damaging winds, dangerous storm surge and heavy rainfall remains likely across the state’s west coast.

Elsa strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane for several hours on Tuesday night before weakening again.  

“We ask that you please take it seriously,” Governor Ron Desantis said Tuesday in Tallahassee. “This is not a time to joyride because we do have hazardous conditions out there.”
There were no reports of damage or injuries overnight in the Tampa Bay area, and the worst of the winds were expected to stay just offshore.
Early Wednesday morning, Elsa was centered about 70 miles west-northwest of Tampa, and still packing maximum sustained winds around 65 mph. It was moving north at about 14 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, and expected to turn inland later in the morning and rake across northern central Florida.

Tropical Storm Elsa churns over central Florida and the state’s Gulf Coast at about 2 a.m. Eastern on July 7, 2021, in an infrared image provided by the National Hurricane Center. National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Tropical storm warnings were in effect for a swath of the Georgia coast up into South Carolina, where significant flooding was predicted. The National Hurricane Center said there was a storm surge warning in place for a long section of Florida’s Gulf Coast, from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay.