Tropical Storm Elsa erupted into Category 1 hurricanes Tuesday, hours ahead of a planned landslide on the north coast of the Gulf of Florida, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
Downtown Elsa was about 100 miles (165km) south-southwest of Tampa, Florida, and was moving north at about nine miles per hour (15km / h), with sustained maximum winds of 75 mph (120km / h). ), the NHC said in a council meeting at 8pm (00:00 GMT Wednesday).
In addition to the damaging winds and heavy rains, the NHC in Miami has warned of risks to life-threatening storms, floods and isolated tornadoes. A hurricane warning was issued for a long stretch of coastline, from Egmont Key, in the Tampa Bay region, to the Steinhatchee River about 180 miles (290km) north along the Gulf Coast, Elsa said. land Wednesday morning.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the storm was scheduled to land between 8am and 9am (12:00 and 13:00 GMT) around the Tampa Bay region.
Now is not “a time to pass joy” because “we have dangerous conditions,” DeSantis said Tuesday, warning that the area will take a hard hit from the storm overnight.
Across the Tampa Bay area, which is home to about 3.5 million people, events, government offices and schools were closing Tuesday before the storm. Tampa International Airport is closed at 5pm (21:00 GMT) due to the possibility of storms.
Florida Gov. Jeanette Nunez urged residents of the state to begin preparing for the storm, including the possibility of power outages, and asked people to provide adequate supplies of food and water.
“If you are asked to evacuate, please go,” he said, reminding people that there were emergency shelters ready to accommodate them.
After the mainland, the storm is expected to move north-northeast across the southeastern United States on Thursday, dropping between two and four inches (five to 10cm) of rain across the Florida peninsula.
The storm threatened to prevent search and rescue efforts at the site of the collapse of the condominium building in Surfside, near Miami, where crews had been wandering among the rubble for 12 days in hopes of finding it. survivors. As of Tuesday, 36 people had been confirmed dead and 109 were still missing, said Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade mayor.
Further south, the Cubans breathed a sigh of relief as Elsa seemed to have provoked little damage, while actually helping to replenish water tanks.
The capital city of Havana woke up from the overcast sky after a rainy night, but without major flooding or damage Tuesday. Cubans are back on the road after authorities issued a tropical storm warning, even though heavy rains have been set to continue in parts of the country.
“It’s good that Elsa didn’t cause major damage because we have a really complicated situation here with the coronavirus and now the hurricanes,” said Susana Perez, 68, a retired professor, lined up to buy oil amid a shortage distribution of goods in Cuba.
Last week, Elsa, which briefly fortified itself in the first hurricane of the season, caused at least very dead and damage to infrastructure and agriculture in the Caribbean island nations east of Cuba.
According to government officials, preliminary estimates of the damage were more than $ 12 million in St. Lucia and $ 5.3 million in Jamaica.
Elsa’s arrival marks the first date a so-called fifth storm – which doesn’t typically arrive before August – has hit the region.