What Happened as Tropical Storm Elsa Made Landfall in Florida

Live Updates
  • Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall at about 11 a.m. Wednesday in Taylor County, Florida
  • Downed trees and partial flooding reported in parts of the state
  • Winds of approximately 70 mph and heavy rain are forecast
  • National Guard is on standby, with Governor Ron DeSantis issuing State of Emergency

Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall on Florida's west coast Wednesday morning.

Winds of approximately 70 mph and heavy rain were forecast to hit the Sunshine State late Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Several downed trees and partial flooding have been reported in multiple areas.

A storm surge warning is in force for a 200-mile stretch of the coast north of Tampa Bay. Elsa is expected to hit Georgia and South Carolina after passing over Florida.

Flooding from Tropical Storm Elsa
A truck drives through a flooded 1st Avenue after Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall nearby on July 7, 2021 in Steinhatchee, Florida. Storm warnings remain in effect for parts of Florida's west coast after Elsa made landfall on Wednesday morning. After hitting Cuba on Monday, causing flooding and mudslides, Elsa is expected to bring strong winds and rain as it heads north in the coming days. Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

The storm previously battered the Caribbean, leaving three people dead and bringing mudslides and flooding.

Elsa was briefly given hurricane status (for a second time) on Tuesday night as it passed over Cuba but later was downgraded.

Elsa expected to weaken to a tropical depression Thursday

Tropical Storm Elsa is heading toward Georgia as it maintains its strength into Wednesday evening.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Elsa is expected to weaken to a tropical depression as it continues over the Carolinas on Thursday.

About two to six inches of rain are expected over parts of southeastern Georgia and the lowlands of South Carolina, with possible flash flooding, the hurricane center said.

In the coastal areas of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, about one to five inches of rain are possible through Thursday night, according to the hurricane center.

By Friday morning, Elsa may strengthen to a tropical storm again as it nears New York.

Tropical storm warnings and forecasts of rain and flooding are in place along the mid-Atlantic coast.

A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect for portions of NE NC, E/SE VA, and the Eastern Shore. Heavy rain, gusty winds, isolated tornadoes, and increased rip current risk will be possible as #Elsa moves through Thurs-Thurs night. Stay tuned to the NWS and the NHC for updates. pic.twitter.com/NZ8veAAojI

— NWS Wakefield (@NWSWakefieldVA) July 7, 2021

"It is looking more and more like parts of Maryland will be impacted by Elsa," the Maryland Emergency Management Agency said in a tweet. However, "impacts are expected to be minimal."

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management said Elsa is "expected to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to [east and southeast] Virginia and the Eastern Shore."

Elsa brought over 10 inches of rain to some Florida cities

AccuWeather reported the highest rainfall amounts in Florida as Tropical Storm Elsa moves across the state.

Over the past 24 hours, the amounts range from 5.6 inches in Fort Myers to 10.88 inches in Port Charlotte.

A list of the highest rainfall amounts reported from #Elsa as of 10 A.M. this morning, including three areas – Port Charlotte, Big Slough, and North Port – that topped 10 inches. Read more: https://t.co/MpQh98eiD6 pic.twitter.com/3b6LyXp0o9

— AccuWeather (@accuweather) July 7, 2021

Additionally, over 25,000 customers in Florida are without power after Elsa made landfall, according to PowerOutage.us.

About 25,600 people were without power in the state as of 2:35 p.m. Wednesday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warned residents in Elsa's path about the high risk of flooding.

Areas in the path of #Elsa are at risk for inland flooding. Follow @NWS for your local forecast & remember:

⚠ Barricades are there for your protection. Never drive around them.
⚠ Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
⚠ Floodwaters hide many dangers. Don’t walk or swim in the water. pic.twitter.com/yFRJ1gkthY

— FEMA (@fema) July 7, 2021

Elsa winds weaken as the storm moves east

Tropical Storm Elsa has weakened as it moves inland Wednesday afternoon.

At 2 p.m., the National Hurricane Center clocked Elsa's sustained winds at 50 mph.

WCTV meteorologist Mike McCall said Elsa's winds will continue to lessen as the storm moves eastward.

"Along and east of its path, heavy rain and gusts to 35-45 mph are expected," McCall said in a tweet. "[Elsa] will move to the north-northeast by this evening and exit our viewing area."

The Weather Channel reported that all tropical storm warnings in central Florida have been dropped as Elsa progresses.

2p update: All #tropical storm, surge warnings have now been dropped in central Florida as #Elsa continues to move farther inland.

Our updated, complete forecast briefing, including storm reports: https://t.co/gcsIxmkqAe pic.twitter.com/SyoV2j032Y

— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) July 7, 2021

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor was thankful that the city had only "minimal effects from Elsa" on Tuesday and minimal flooding and damage Wednesday morning.

"Fortunately for us, we didn't see the storm surge that was predicted," she said.

She added that the city is experiencing some downed trees and power outages.

Good Morning, @CityofTampa!

We’re fortunate to see minimal damage & flooding this morning, but it’s important to keep safety top of mind. Be aware of your surroundings & don’t drive through flood waters. pic.twitter.com/ztvBlzsmUU

— Jane Castor (@JaneCastor) July 7, 2021

Severe weather warnings still in place in Florida as Elsa move northward

Even as Elsa moves northeast across Florida, many areas along the state's west coast are "not out of the woods yet," the National Weather Service in Tallahassee said.

This video shows Horseshoe Beach in the hours before Elsa made landfall in nearby Steinhatchee on Wednesday morning. The time lapse shows the intense storm surge flooding the shore.

Ok let's try this again. Watch storm surge from #Elsa in Horseshoe Beach, FL from the @FSWNHorseshoe @WeatherSTEM . This shows approximately 2 hours form 8:55 to 10:55 am. pic.twitter.com/AOJvojEt60

— Jessica Arnoldy (@JessicaArnoldy) July 7, 2021

The NWS in Tallahassee said rain, flooding, wind, tornados and storm surges were still possible into Wednesday.

📢We are not out of the woods yet. Here's the latest information on #Elsa. ⛈️The largest threats for today are flooding rain, storm surge, damaging wind, and a few tornadoes. See the graphics in the rest of the thread for details. #FLwx #GAwx #ALwx #Elsa pic.twitter.com/ewDPoXeOw7

— NWS Tallahassee (@NWSTallahassee) July 7, 2021

Heavy rainfall and flooding are still expected in the coastal and inland areas of Florida. The University of Florida weather broadcast estimates three to seven inches of rainfall over areas until later Wednesday afternoon.

#Elsa is continuing to dump inches of rain for coastal and inland areas. There is now a flood warning in #Alachua, Columbia, #Suwannee, Taylor, Gilchrist, and other surrounding counties. Please stay off of roadways if possible #FLwx pic.twitter.com/UjOShpRCq6

— UF Weather (@UFWeather) July 7, 2021

Tropical Storm warnings in place along mid-Atlantic coast

Tropical storm warnings and watches have been extended along the mid-Atlantic coast as Elsa continues to move northward, the National Weather Service said.

A warning has been issued for the coast of North Carolina, southeast Virginia, the Southern Chesapeake Bay, the coastal Delmarva Peninsula and much of the New Jersey shore.

🌀TROPICAL STORM WATCH FOR COASTAL NJ🌀 I’d find it hard to believe that ELSA could be as impactful as the storms we had last night in terms of outages. Worst of ELSA is later Thursday through Friday morning. @News12NJ pic.twitter.com/ZQR2JsLzMv

— Justin Godynick (@JGodynick) July 7, 2021

A special marine warning remains in place for the waters from Manasquan Inlet to the Little Egg Harbor Inlet in New Jersey.

As Elsa continues to move along the U.S. coast, it is expected to bring more storm weather to the Northeast on Thursday and Friday.

The thunderstorm threat has increased for today. SPC has upgraded portions of eastern PA and central/northern NJ to a Slight Risk for severe weather. The main threat is expected to be damaging winds, but some small to large hail and heavy rain will also be possible. pic.twitter.com/ImIIdVosyW

— NWS Mount Holly (@NWS_MountHolly) July 7, 2021

Areas of New Jersey have already been hit with severe high temperatures and storms bringing rain, wind, thunder and lightning.

A look at some of the flooding here at the Eaton Crest apartments in Eatontown. @News12NJ @kevincorey @JGodynick @Meteor_Mike @JamesGWeather pic.twitter.com/dgsiBEEJjB

— Jim Murdoch News12NJ (@ReporterJim) July 7, 2021

Many communities are experiencing fallen trees, power outages and roadway flooding as a result of the storms.

As of early Wednesday, more than 40,000 homes and businesses were without power, according to NewJersey.com.

Parts of Wall Twp by Route 34 still without power this morning after lightning took out the top of this telephone poll at West Hurley Pond Road. @News12NJ @JamesGWeather @JGodynick @Meteor_Mike pic.twitter.com/ECipn3aPUj

— Jim Murdoch News12NJ (@ReporterJim) July 7, 2021

There are also major delays on public transits lines due to "weather-related issues." New Jersey transits rail and bus services across the state continue to be impacted.

NJ TRANSIT rail service is subject to up to 90-minute delays system-wide. Crews are working to remove downed trees and repair other storm-related issues. Please check your line account for updates. https://t.co/QifHR1J7jB pic.twitter.com/nOC82Rri4l

— NJ TRANSIT (@NJTRANSIT) July 7, 2021

Elsa makes landfall

Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall around 11 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Storm #Elsa Advisory 30: Center of Elsa Making Landfall in Taylor County Along the North Florida Gulf Coast. https://t.co/VqHn0u1vgc

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) July 7, 2021

The center of the storm came ashore near Steinhatchee, Florida in Taylor County and is continuing northward at a speed of 14 mph.

Maximum sustained winds remain at 65 mph and heavy rainfall continues.

BREAKING: #Tropical storm #Elsa has made landfall near Steinhatchee, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. pic.twitter.com/ayNWjmrc9F

— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) July 7, 2021

Surfside Death Toll Now 46

Rescue crews at the site of the Surfside condo collapse have recovered 10 more bodies from the rubble, bringing the death toll for the disaster to at least 46, as around 100 people are still unaccounted for, according to officials.

Crews are continuing with the rescue process today, as Florida prepares for Tropical Storm Elsa to make landfall later on Wednesday morning, possibly complicating the operation.

Surfside site on Tuesday
Search and rescue teams continue to work in the rubble at the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, Florida, on July 6, 2021. Rescue crews recovered ten more bodies overnight on Tuesday. Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters on Tuesday that the crews will "continue as now to thoroughly, carefully sift through these piles," but admitted that the job is a "very thorough and exhaustive."

Tampa Airport Reopens Early Amid Storm

Tampa International Airport has reopened earlier than scheduled after it suspended flights on Tuesday night in preparation for Tropical Storm Elsa.

The airport announced that it would be suspending operations at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday until 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

Good news! Tampa International Airport will resume operations at 8:30 a.m. after assessing impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa.

If you're flying, please check on your flight status with your airline.

For additional details: https://t.co/Qzza3fSpRg

— Tampa International Airport ✈️ (@FlyTPA) July 7, 2021

However, early on Wednesday morning, the airport announced that operations would resume at 8:30 a.m. after the extreme weather had cleared up in the area.

Shortly after the announcement, the airport tweeted a picture of a plane landing on the runway, writing: "Planes are landing again and it's a good thing."

Planes are landing again and it's a good thing. pic.twitter.com/FuYizB3eVU

— Tampa International Airport ✈️ (@FlyTPA) July 7, 2021

Elsa Causes Minor Damage Overnight

Tropical Storm Elsa caused minor damage in several areas of Florida on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning as it approached landfall on the state's west coast.

Both the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and the Clearwater Police Department released photos on Wednesday morning showing the minor damage caused by the storm, including several trees downed on roads.

Tree in Hillsborough County
A picture of a fallen tree provided by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Storm Elsa made landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

The city of North Port also released photos showing severe flooding in the area, as it confirmed that "High Water" signs had been put in place.

Fallen tree in Clearwater
A picture of a fallen tree provided by the Clearwater Police Department. The storm made landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning. Clearwater Police Department

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor confirmed on Twitter that her region had been spared major damage, writing: "We're fortunate to see minimal damage & flooding this morning, but it's important to keep safety top of mind. Be aware of your surroundings & don't drive through flood waters."

Good Morning, @CityofTampa!

We’re fortunate to see minimal damage & flooding this morning, but it’s important to keep safety top of mind. Be aware of your surroundings & don’t drive through flood waters. pic.twitter.com/ztvBlzsmUU

— Jane Castor (@JaneCastor) July 7, 2021

DeSantis Confirms Storm Will Make Landfall Wednesday

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has confirmed that Tropical Storm Elsa is "speeding up" on its way to making landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning.

Speaking from the State Emergency Operations Center at around 8:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday, DeSantis said that the storm is expected to make landfall in the town of Steinhatchee "in the next few hours" and confirmed that it is travelling at 14mph with maximum sustained wind speeds of 65mph.

Watch Live: Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers an update on #Elsa as the storm nears landfall in Florida.https://t.co/73YEghPuK8

— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 7, 2021

Although the governor said that areas such as Hillsborough County were suffering from power outages, he confirmed that no healthcare facilities had reported losing power in the state so far.

DeSantis urged Florida residents to continue practicing storm safety precautions and to be mindful of fallen trees and standing water.

Elsa Remains a Tropical Storm

Storm Elsa briefly reached hurricane strength while over the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday night, before being downgraded back down to a tropical storm as it closed in on Florida.

While located around 100 miles southwest of Tampa on Tuesday, Elsa was upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane, as it recorded maximum wind speeds of 75 mph. A tropical storm becomes a Category 1 Hurricane at 74 mph.

Tropical Storm #Elsa Advisory 28A: Elsa Weakens to a Tropical Storm. Heavy Rains and Gusty Winds Continue Spreading Inland Across Southwest and West-Central Florida. https://t.co/VqHn0u1vgc

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) July 7, 2021

However, at around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the National Hurricane Center confirmed that the storm had weakened on its approach to Florida and was once again classified as a tropical storm with winds of up to 65mph recorded.

The agency said that gusty winds and heavy rain are expected in Florida on Wednesday as the storm makes landfall in the state.

Storm Elsa in Florida
Tropical Storm Elsa makes landfall on July 7, 2021 in Cedar Key, Florida. A warning is in force for a 200-mile stretch of Florida's gulf coastline as the Storm makes landfall. The storm was downgraded from a hurricane in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images