LATEST ON ELSA: Tropical storm warnings, watches extended along Florida’s Gulf Coast


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tropical storm warnings remain in effect for Tampa Bay and much of Florida’s Gulf Coast as Elsa nudges closer to Cuba Monday morning. Portions of the west coast are also under a storm surge watch, the National Hurricane Center said.

At 5 a.m. ET Monday, Elsa had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and was centered about 220 miles southeast of Havana, Cuba. The system was moving northwest at 14 mph with tropical-storm-force winds extending outward up to 70 miles from the storm’s center.

Elsa could strengthen once it reaches Cuba Monday, but will likely weaken over land. It’s expected to pass near the Florida Keys Tuesday, then move over Florida’s Gulf Coast on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The storm is forecast to dump 5 to 10 inches of rain across portions of Cuba with some areas seeing isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches. The Cayman Islands could see 3 to 5 inches of rainfall. Forecasters say the rain could lead to flash flooding and mudslides. About 3 to 5 feet of storm surge could occur along the southwestern coast of Cuba.

The forecast track shifted slightly to the left Monday morning, but Tampa Bay remains in the cone of uncertainty, with much of the area under a tropical storm warning and storm surge watch.

“The new track this morning has shifted a little to the left. The longer Elsa stays offshore, the more impacts the Tampa area will see. The main concern is still flooding on our already saturated grounds,” said Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Amanda Holly.

On Saturday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a state of emergency for Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

On Monday morning, the tropical storm watch from Flamingo to Englewood was upgraded to a tropical storm warning, the hurricane center said.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus,
Villa Clara, Mayabeque, and Havana, the Florida Keys from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas and the west coast of Florida from Flamingo to Englewood. A tropical storm watch is in effect for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the Cuban province of Artemis, the Florida Keys from east of Craig Key to Ocean Reef, Florida Bay and the west coast of Florida from Englewood northward to the Aucilla River.

A hurricane warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of Cienfuegos and Matanzas, while the Cuban province of Camaguey remains under a hurricane watch.

A storm surge watch is in effect for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Suwannee River.

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