What We Know As Tropical Storm Elsa Approaches Florida

Live Updates

Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to make landfall in the U.S. on Wednesday.

A hurricane watch has been issued for parts of Florida, alongside tropical storm warnings in other areas.

National Hurricane Center experts have also warned of a potential "life-threatening surge" hitting the West Coast of the state, from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River.

That are includes Tampa Bay, just south of where weather forecasters expect Elsa to first hit.

The storm had been gaining speed as it neared Cuba, but is expected to reduce in size somewhat as it moves over the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.

It is the fifth named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, the earliest that landmark has been reached. It formed on Thursday, was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane on Friday, then downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday.

It is expected to reach near-hurricane speeds (above 74mph) when it hits Florida.

Amusement parks close early, cancel shows as Elsa nears

Tropical Storm Elsa has caused some of Florida's biggest parks and attractions to cancel events or close early.

Walt Disney World in Orlando has canceled Tuesday night's EPCOT Forever firework show due to the incoming storm, according to BlogMickey.com.

BREAKING: Disney Cancels July 6 Performance of “EPCOT Forever” as Tropical Storm Elsa Approacheshttps://t.co/VLHcVBz2j6

— BlogMickey.com (@Blog_Mickey) July 6, 2021

Busch Garden in Tampa Bay announced it will close at 4 p.m. Tuesday due to "the anticipated impact of Tropical Storm Elsa." The park plans to reopen at 12 p.m. Wednesday.

There is no word yet on any cancelations or closures from SeaWorld, LEGOLAND Florida or Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal said it is closely monitoring the weather and asked visitors to check their social media accounts for updates.

In a response on Twitter, Universal said that outdoor attractions may be temporarily closed in the event of severe weather.

"The safety of our guests and team members is very important to us," Universal said in a tweet Tuesday. "In the event of severe weather, we may need to close our outdoor attractions temporarily as a safety precaution."

Hi there! The safety of our guests and team members is very important to us. In the event of severe weather, we may need to close our outdoor attractions temporarily as a safety precaution.

— Universal Orlando Resort (@UniversalORL) July 6, 2021

Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park announced it will close Tuesday evening.

"In anticipation of the severe weather forecasted to impact the Tampa Bay area tomorrow, ZooTampa will be closed Tuesday, July 6, 2021," the zoo said in a tweet Monday. "ZooTampa has a comprehensive severe weather preparedness plan in place to ensure the safety of our animals and team members."

In anticipation of the severe weather forecasted to impact the Tampa Bay area tomorrow, ZooTampa will be closed Tuesday, July 6, 2021. ZooTampa has a comprehensive severe weather preparedness plan in place to ensure the safety of our animals and team members. #ZooTampa pic.twitter.com/IpbikLEdOk

— ZooTampa at Lowry Park (@ZooTampa) July 5, 2021

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport will close due to Elsa

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport will shut down Tuesday evening due to Tropical Storm Elsa.

The airport will be closed from 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening until 6:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to Sarasota Magazine.

Just in: @SRQAirport is shutting down operations tonight at 6:30 p.m. due to #TropicalStormElsa. https://t.co/bVjrSjok3j

— Sarasota Magazine (@SarasotaMagazin) July 6, 2021

Tampa Bay International Airport also announced it will suspend operations at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday evening due to the incoming storm. TPA plans to resume operations at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

TPA will suspend operations at 5 p.m. today due to Tropical Storm Elsa. We expect to open Wednesday morning after a storm assessment. Please check with your airline for flight updates.

Read more: https://t.co/ahvcUYu9vY

— Tampa International Airport ✈️ (@FlyTPA) July 6, 2021

St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport said it will remain open.

A spokesperson for St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport told Newsweek they are not suspending operations "as of right now," but noted that airport officials will be discussing any possible cancellations throughout the day.

PIE remains open and will not close. Please continue to monitor with your airline for flight cancellations due to Tropical Storm Elsa.

Image credits to: @weatherchannel pic.twitter.com/JvdMslkzdx

— St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (@iflypie) July 6, 2021

Several airlines, including Delta, American and United have issued travel waivers for travelers flying in or out of several Florida airports, according to Travel Pulse.

United, Delta and American Airlines have issued travel waivers for Fort Meyers (RSW), Key West (EYE), Sarasota (SRQ) and Tampa (TPA) airports.

United Airlines' fee waiver also included Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Miami (MIA), West Palm Beach (PBI) and Orlando (MCO) airports.

Travelers are advised to check with their airline for updates regarding flight schedules and travel waiver policies.

Hurricane warning issued on Florida's west coast

Tropical Storm Elsa is nearing hurricane strength, according to the National Hurricane Center. A hurricane warning has been issued along the Gulf Florida coast.

2pm EDT 6 July-- Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters found #Elsa's max sustained winds are near 70 mph. A special advisory was issued to raise the short-term intensity forecast & to issue Hurricane Warnings for parts of the Gulf Florida coast.

Latest: https://t.co/905zOAYiId pic.twitter.com/ZoyKfKwrqG

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) July 6, 2021

The Air Force Hurricane Hunters clocked Elsa's maximum sustained winds near 70 mph.

Elsa is forecasted to become a Catagory 1 hurricane before it makes landfall on Florida's west coast Wednesday.

The storm is currently 180 miles south of Tampa, Florida and is moving north at 90 mph.

The track of Tropical Storm #Elsa has not changed but it has gotten a little stronger. This has caused us to change our hurricane watch to a warning as Elsa is now forecasted to become a hurricane. Also, a tornado watch has been issued for areas south of I-4. #flwx pic.twitter.com/SVL0QGNyWp

— NWS Tampa Bay (@NWSTampaBay) July 6, 2021

Tornado watch issued for counties in southern and central Florida

A tornado watch has been issued for southern and parts of central Florida until 11:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday night.

The National Weather Service based in Tampa Bay said wind gusts up to 70 mph are possible

A tornado watch has been issued for parts of Florida until 11 PM EDT pic.twitter.com/jhLUYgBZp2

— NWS Tampa Bay (@NWSTampaBay) July 6, 2021

The warning extends over the following counties: Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and St. Lucie.

Key West hit with rain, winds and power outages

As Tropical Strom Elsa is set to make landfall in Florida Wednesday, the storm is already impacting communities in the southern part of the state.

The @EarthCam webcam at Key West, Florida showed considerable street flooding from Tropical Storm #Elsa at 11:30 ET. https://t.co/4SMTk2u9OW pic.twitter.com/7kZ6S4Pu7W

— Breaking Weather by AccuWeather (@breakingweather) July 6, 2021

Elsa has brought intense rain, flooding and rough waves to Key West, the southernmost point of the continental United States.

👀 Whoa 👀

Everybody wave to #Elsa!
🌊🌊🌊

Key West was taking the brunt of Elsa's tropical rain bands this morning. Strong winds, torrential rain and rough waves were lashing the region. #FLwx pic.twitter.com/0hL7KWb6xd

— WeatherNation (@WeatherNation) July 6, 2021

Felicia Combs, a Weather Channel meteorologist, shared a video of intense winds hitting the Key West coast. Wind gusts have reached 70 mph in Key West, according to WCYB meteorologist Ricky Matthews.

#Elsa still hammering #KeyWest. I’ll see you on @weatherchannel 2-6pm ET with the latest. pic.twitter.com/PShsKKFmjP

— Felicia Combs (@FeliciaCombsTWC) July 6, 2021

Keys Energy Services has reported distribution line outages affecting over 3,000 customers in Key West due to Elsa. Crews are working to restore power to the area.

A Distribution Line outage is affecting apprx 1,400 KEYS’ customers in the New Town section of Key West (area in purple). The outage was triggered at 11:50A as a result of #Elsa. KEYS’ crews are working to restore power as quickly and safely as possible. pic.twitter.com/vQ4sIVDi4p

— Keys Energy Services (@KeysEnergy) July 6, 2021

Counties open shelters as Elsa approaches Florida

The National Weather Service based in Miami is forecasting heavy rainfall will soon hit Coastal Collier County.

"As heavy rainfall falls over already saturated soils, the potential for flash flooding will continue to increase," NWS Miami said.

July 6th at 12:15pm - A band of heavy rainfall associated with TS #Elsa will be moving into Coastal Collier County shortly. As heavy rainfall falls over already saturated soils, the potential for flash flooding will continue to increase. Strong wind gusts are also possible! pic.twitter.com/mltwauoeCt

— NWS Miami (@NWSMiami) July 6, 2021

Emergency services across Florida are sharing information to help residents preapre for the incoming storm.

At least four counties in the Tampa area, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando and Manatee, have opened shelters for residents.

Some emergency shelters are planning to open as #TropicalStormElsa is expected to impact Florida. Current Tampa Bay area locations ⬇️https://t.co/Km8UHCyziL

— 10 Tampa Bay (@10TampaBay) July 5, 2021

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee noted that flooding and high winds may prompt evacaitations.

And of course, we can't forget rainfall. The heaviest rain is forecast to fall around and east of the center of #Elsa. Here's the latest rainfall forecast and threat areas, including a Flood Watch. Heaviest rain likely to fall through the day on Wednesday. #FLwx #GAwx pic.twitter.com/2NcXvl4gTO

— NWS Tallahassee (@NWSTallahassee) July 6, 2021

However, flooding and winds may make traveling on roadways difficult.

Lee County Department of Transportation is advising their residents to avoid bridges and roads leading to them once sustained winds reach 40 mph.

Lee County Department of Transportation (DOT) strongly advises motorists to stay off bridges – and the roads leading to them – when sustained winds reach 40 mph (tropical storm force). Visit https://t.co/KgLOsdCQ6r for additional information. pic.twitter.com/cXsSqH3xfx

— Lee County Government (@LeeCountyFLBOCC) July 6, 2021

If people have to drive when it's raining, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association advises stocking up vehicles with emergency roadsite kits, driving slowly and turning around when the road is flooded.

"People often underestimate the power of rushing water," driving slowly, turning around when the road is flooded. "It only takes 12 inches of rushing water to carry away most cars, and just two feet of rushing water can carry away most trucks and SUVs."

"The CDC reports the most common type of flood-related drowning occurs when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water," it added.

Florida residents prepare for Elsa with sandbags amid storm surge warnings

Florida residents are preparing for the impact of Tropical Storm Elsa before it's set to make landfall.

Tampa Bay WTVT Fox 13 reporter Kim Kuzion said Holmes Beach, Florida residents "aren't taking any chances" when it comes to preparing for the storm.

People are gathering sandbags in an area she said is "prone to flooding."

Residents of Holmes Beach are getting prepared with sandbags. While visitors are on vacation mode. Anna Maria is prone to flooding and residents say they aren’t taking any chances @fox13news #manatee #annamaria #holmesbeach pic.twitter.com/dLgcicNDa1

— Kim Kuizon FOX 13 (@kkuizon) July 6, 2021

"I want everyone to be prepared," Holmes Beach Chief William Tokajer told Kuizon. "This could be more than we think. You always have to be prepared for it being a hurricane even though it says it's a tropical storm."

Tokajer urged residents to get their sandbags and remove lawn and patio furniture that "could become flying objects in the wind."

Elsa is reporting maximum sustained winds at 60 mph Tuesday.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management said storm surge warnings are in place across the state.

🌊 Storm surge warnings are in place from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River. 3 - 5 feet of storm surge is expected from the Aucilla River to Englewood.

The rising water moving inland from the shoreline can be life-threatening. Follow all evacuation orders from local officials.

— FL Division of Emergency Management (@FLSERT) July 6, 2021

Commander Col. Ben Jonsson told the Associated Press that storm surge could reach 5 feet over normally dry land in the Tampa Bay area if Elsa passes at high tide.

Confirmed Condo Death Toll Rises to 32

The death toll from the Surfside condo collapse is now at 32, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has told reporters.

"191 people are accounted for and we have 113 reports of people who are potentially unaccounted for," she said at a press conference at the site where rescue teams continue to search for survivors amid Tropical Storm Elsa.

Miami-Dade Mayor Cava gives an update on the condo collapse in Surfside, FL: 32 confirmed deaths, with 113 people potentially unaccounted for. pic.twitter.com/7cfNnnj8tX

— The Recount (@therecount) July 6, 2021

"We're closely monitoring the weather, and we now have our weather service embedded within our search and rescue teams to work closely to track for any changes that could impact the work to assure the safety of our first responders," Cava added.

Tornadoes 'Possible' in Southern Florida

The National Weather Service has predicted that tornadoes could hit areas of South Florida on Tuesday as the state prepares for Tropical Storm Elsa.

"Tropical Storm #Elsa continues to move NNW this morning just to the west of Key West. Strong wind gusts in squalls, heavy rainfall, and a few tornadoes today are possible across South Florida today," the agency's Miami bureau tweeted at 10:00 am ET on Tuesday.

July 6th at 10am - Tropical Storm #Elsa continues to move NNW this morning just to the west of Key West. Strong wind gusts in squalls, heavy rainfall, and a few tornadoes today are possible across South Florida today. Be sure to have a way to receive NWS Miami warnings today! pic.twitter.com/iug5HLBmv5

— NWS Miami (@NWSMiami) July 6, 2021

In an earlier tweet, the agency said that heavy flooding was also expected in southern areas of the state, as rain is scheduled to increase throughout the day and into Wednesday morning.

Elsa has already started to affect the weather in the state, as strong winds and heavy rain battered Miami and other areas of Florida overnight on Monday.

National Guard Prepare for Elsa

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has urged state residents to be prepared and said that the effects of Tropical Storm Elsa are likely to be widespread.

"It's important that Floridians don't focus on the cone. Impacts are expected well outside that area," DeSantis said during a press conference on Tuesday morning as he spoke about predictions for the storm.

Watch: Gov. DeSantis said residents on the state's west coast must be prepared for heavy rain and storm surge from Tropical Storm Elsa. Read more: https://t.co/Zwamo6hc7d pic.twitter.com/nS9iZypksM

— CBS4 Miami (@CBSMiami) July 6, 2021

The governor confirmed that widespread evacuations are unlikely over the next few days, but said that residents should "heed the call" if emergency services deem it necessary.

Around 250 National Guard members have been called up in preparation for Elsa and are currently based in Orlando to help with moving supplies and any rescue efforts.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to the media about the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building that partially collapsed on July 03, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. The governor urged Florida residents to prepare for Tropical Storm Elsa. Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Elsa Hits Florida Keys

Tropical Storm Elsa has begun lashing the Florida Keys as it makes its way from the Caribbean to the U.S.

Rain from Elsa has already started to affect the weather in the state, as strong winds and heavy rain have been battering Miami and other areas of Florida overnight on Monday.

#GOESEast infrared loop showing an increase in convection near the center of TS #Elsa as it passes west of Key West. Sand Key Light, 9 miles SW of Key West, recently recorded sustained winds of 43 kts (49 mph) and gusts to 55 kts (64 mph). #flwx #KeyWest #FloridaKeys pic.twitter.com/lanRVngFwm

— NWS Key West (@NWSKeyWest) July 6, 2021

The storm, which is expected to make landfall in Florida on Wednesday morning, had maximum sustained winds of 60mph early on Tuesday, as its core was recorded at 50mph, according to the Associated Press.

The storm is expected to be close to hurricane strength, which is classified at its lowest at 74mph, by the time it reaches land in Florida tomorrow morning.

Tampa International Airport Suspends Flights

Tampa International Airport will be suspending commercial operations overnight on Tuesday due to the forecast for Tropical Storm Elsa.

The Florida airport released a statement on Tuesday, stating that it will be suspending operations from 5:00 pm on Tuesday to 10:00 am on Wednesday, as "wind speeds of up to 65 to 70 miles per hour," are predicted for the area.

TPA will suspend operations at 5 p.m. today due to Tropical Storm Elsa. We expect to open Wednesday morning after a storm assessment. Please check with your airline for flight updates.

Read more: https://t.co/ahvcUYu9vY

— Tampa International Airport ✈️ (@FlyTPA) July 6, 2021

The suspension at the airport will be lifted at 10:00 am on Wednesday after its buildings have been assessed for damage from the storm.

The airport urged travellers to check with their fight providers for up-to-date schedules during this week and said that its buildings are "not equipped" to be used as emergency shelters.

Tampa International Airport weather map
A map provided by Tampa International Airport predicting the route of Tropical Storm Elsa. The airport announced that flights would be suspended from 5:00 pm on Tuesday to 10:00 am on Wednesday amid the storm. Tampa International Airport

Latest on Surfside Search

Search-and-rescue crews are continuing to work through the rubble to find any survivors from the Surfside condo collapse, as strong winds and heavy rainfall start to to hit the area from Tropical Storm Elsa.

The storm is not predicted to hit the area with its full force until Wednesday, and rescue crews are continuing working at the scene to get through as much as wreckage as possible before they have to pause.

Despite the arrival of inclement weather due to Tropical Storm Elsa, first responders continue working on the debris pile of the Champlain Towers building collapse in Surfside. pic.twitter.com/Gc12hdtu86

— Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (@MiamiDadeFire) July 5, 2021

The rescue operation was temporarily suspended over the weekend as officials prepared for the storm by demolishing the remaining part of the structure still standing to prevent falling debris.

This has allowed crews to work safely on the site amid the strong winds, as Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CNN said that teams are now working at "100 percent full strength."

Surfside crews working
After a brief stoppage to demolish the standing remains, Search and Rescue personnel continue working in the rubble pile of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo on July 5, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to hit the area on Wednesday, possibly causing a pause in the search. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Where is the Storm Heading?

Elsa is expected to make landfall in Florida on Tuesday, before making its way to several states across the U.S.

The National Hurricane Center has predicted tropical storm conditions and storm surge impacts to extend along the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas Wednesday and Thursday, as parts of Louisiana, Alabama and Virginia will see heavy rainfall.

Rainfall map for Tropical Storm Elsa
A National Hurricane Center map showing the predicted rainfall from Tropical Storm Elsa. The storm is predicted to make landfall in Florida on Tuesday. National Hurricane Center

In its latest update at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, the agency said that the storm could result in "isolated flash and urban flooding" in those states, as it is predicted to go as far north as Norfolk in Virginia and as far west as New Orleans in Louisiana.

Heavy rainfall is also predicted to continue in Cuba and the Florida Keys on Tuesday, as "flash flooding and mudslides remain an ongoing threat."

National Hurricane Center weather
An image provided by the National Hurricane Center of the weather in Florida. Areas of the state are expected to be hit by around six inches of rain on Tuesday. National Hurricane Center

Carnage in the Caribbean

Tropical Storm Elsa battered Cuba and caused devastation to other parts of the Caribbean over the weekend on its way to the U.S.

Three people were killed on Saturday as the extreme weather passed over the Dominican Republic and St Lucia, including a teenage boy and a 75-year-old woman.

Santo Domingo before the storm
A fisherman stands during the passage of storm Elsa at the Malecón in Santo Domingo, on July 3, 2021. The storm battered the Caribbean over the weekend. Erika SANTELICES/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds of homes were also damaged in Barbados, as more than 100,00 people were evacuated from their homes in Cuba in anticipation of the storm.

No fatalities have yet been reported from Cuba, but further mudslides and flooding are expected in the area as the storm makes its way to Florida.

Santo Domingo storm
A man records a video of the strong waves during the passage of storm Elsa at the Malecón in Santo Domingo, on July 3, 2021. The storm battered the Caribbean over the weekend. Erika SANTELICES/AFP via Getty Images

Florida's state of emergency

Officials in Florida are preparing for Tropical Storm Elsa to hit the state, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has expanded a state of emergency to cover 26 counties.
Several schools have been shut and shelters have been set up for local residents, as emergency operation centers have been opened in preparation for landfall of the storm.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will coordinate all disaster relief efforts in the affected areas in Florida.
President Joe Biden also approved an Emergency Declaration on Sunday in preparation for the tropical storm.

Elsa's path from Cuba to Florida

Topical Storm Elsa is continuing to head towards Florida after heavy winds and flooding caused destruction in the Caribbean.

It will pass near the Florida Keys on Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest update.

Currently it is traveling north from Cuba at around 12 miles per hour.

The storm is currently causing winds of up to 60 miles per hour, with stronger gusts forecast as Elsa moves inland over Florida into Wednesday.

Tropical Storm Elsa satellite image.
This satellite image marks the location of Tropical Storm Elsa as it moves towards Florida. NOAA

Florida on Hurricane Watch

A "life-threatening storm surge" could hit parts of Florida's west coast in the next 48 hours.
National Hurricane Center confirmed in the early hours of Tuesday morning that Tropical Storm Elsa had reached the Florida Straits, as the agency said that the conditions are "beginning to deteriorate" in nearby areas.

The agency also issued a "Hurricane Watch" for parts of the state. Elsa was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm earlier this week.

Wind speeds of up to 60mph are currently forecast in Florida—14mph below hurricane speeds.

Tropical Storm #Elsa Advisory 24: Elsa Near the Florida Keys. Hurricane Watch Has Been Issued For Portions of the West Coast Of Florida. https://t.co/VqHn0u1vgc

— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) July 6, 2021