Tropical Storm Elsa’s potential Florida landfall site shifted farther north overnight, but it’s still expected to swipe the Lower Keys first.
Elsa’s path will take it over most of central Cuba on Monday — where more than 100,000 people have been evacuated — before it re-emerges in the Florida straits early Tuesday morning. On Monday morning, tropical storm watches on Florida’s west coast were upgraded to a warning and extended farther north.
As of the 8 a.m. advisory, Elsa looks like it will make landfall in Florida near the mouth of the Suwannee River, north of Cedar Key, mid-morning on Wednesday. It was about 55 miles east-southeast of Cayo Largo, Cuba, and about 165 miles southeast of Havana.
The storm got slightly stronger overnight but continued to shrink, with 65 mph maximum sustained winds that now extended only 70 miles from the center. Its pace held steady at 14 mph.
The latest projections inched Elsa’s track west and set up most of Florida’s west coast for a scrape from the small storm. In the 5 a.m. advisory, forecasters said Elsa’s strongest winds were mostly within 60 miles east of the center.
South Florida is firmly out of the cone of uncertainty, but forecasters said gusty winds and heavy rain are still possible through Wednesday as the storm grinds up the west coast. Miami will experience its gustiest winds (around 25 mph) midday Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
The Lower Keys could start to feel Elsa’s winds as early as Monday night, but more likely early Tuesday morning. The National Weather Service shows Key West could see maximum sustained winds in the low-40s with gusts as high as 57 mph around 7 a.m. Tuesday.
The Keys issued no mandatory evacuations but urged people in boats, mobile homes and RVs to seek shelter.
The Tampa Bay and Bradenton area could see six inches of rain this week as the storm nears, while the Keys are more likely to see two to four and Miami could see one or two.
Florida could also see one to two feet of storm surge from the Keys north to the Suwannee, with Tampa Bay expecting the most at two to four feet.
Warnings and watches
A tropical storm watch from Flamingo to Englewood, Florida, has been upgraded to a warning.
▪ A tropical storm watch on the west coast of Florida has been extended northward from Anclote River to Aucilla River.
▪ A hurricane warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of Cienfuegos and Matanzas.
▪ A hurricane watch is in effect for the Cuban province of Camaguey
▪ 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 storm surge watch is in effect for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Suwannee River.
▪ A tropical storm watch is in effect for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the Cuban province of Artemisa, the Florida Keys from east of Craig Key to Ocean Reef, Florida Bay, the west coast of Florida from Englewood northward to the Aucilla River.