Forecasters are now saying Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to be a Category 1 hurricane when it reaches Florida’s West Coast.
According to the National Hurricane Center’s 2 p.m. update, Elsa is currently moving north, about 190 miles south of Tampa, at a speed of 9 mph with sustained maximum winds of 70 mph.
This is just shy of a Category 1 hurricane, but as Elsa moves parallel to the state’s Gulf Coast and eventually makes landfall just north of Tampa Bay, the storm will strengthen to a hurricane, says the NHC.
As of now, Elsa is forecast to make landfall near the Big Bend area at around 2 a.m. on Wednesday.
There is currently a hurricane warning for most of Florida’s West Coast, from Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River, including Pinellas County and the coastal areas of Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus counties.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River, including the Tampa Bay area.
This afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for 21 Florida counties, including Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee.
The NHC is predicting storm surge of 2 to 4 feet along Florida’s Central West coastline to the Panhandle, with 3 to 5 feet along the Big Band area and 1 to 3 feet along the South West Coast and the Keys. 1 to 3 inches of rain is expected in most of the inland parts of the state, with high risk of urban flooding.
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