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Hurricane Elsa: Live tracker, spaghetti models, forecast

ELSA LIVE BLOG: Tampa Bay area counties preparing as Tropical Storm Elsa begins trek toward Florida



While plenty of uncertainty exists with Elsa, the Tampa Bay area is watching the storm closely for a potential Gulf impact.

TAMPA, Fla. — Tropical Storm Elsa continues to rapidly move north-northwest and is expected to move across the Florida Straits Monday evening.

The 10 Tampa Bay team of meteorologists will keep you posted online and on television around the clock as this system develops in the coming days.

Breakdown of tropical storm alerts impacting the Tampa Bay area

  • The Tampa Bay area is now under a tropical storm warning.
  • At least three people were killed as Elsa traveled through the Caribbean.
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency for the following counties in anticipation of the storm: Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota. President Joe Biden approved Florida’s emergency declaration.
  • The following Tampa Bay counties issued local states of emergency: Hillsborough, Manatee Pinellas and Hernando.
  • The Hardee County School District will be closed on Tuesday, July 6. Pinellas County, Pasco County, and Hillsborough County schools will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

> Click here for spaghetti models, forecast cones and information to be prepared for the storm.

Below are live updates on the storm’s track and ways you can be prepared for the potential impacts of the storm.

A hurricane watch has been issued for parts of Tampa Bay from Egmont Key to Steinhatchee River as Tropical Storm Elsa nears the Florida Keys. 

It is about 270 miles south of Tampa with maximum sustained winds at 60 mph.

NHC says winds are forecast to increase to 70 mph as it approaches our coast tonight. Tropical Storm conditions are expected to arrive late this afternoon.

11:00 p.m. Monday, July 5

Tropical Storm Elsa is once again over open water as the storm leaves Cuba behind and continues its trek toward Florida.  As of 11 p.m. Monday, Elsa has intensified to sustained winds of 60-mph and is moving north-northwest at 12 mph.  

NHC reports the tropical storm is expected to move across the Florida Straits overnight Monday night, passing near the Florida Keys early Tuesday morning.

10:04 p.m. Monday, July 5

The city of Clearwater is canceling summer camps for kids at its recreation centers for both Tuesday and Wednesday. Recreational programming for Tuesday evening will also be halted due to Tropical Storm Elsa.

As of Monday night, Citrus County Schools says all of its district offices and school sites will be open on Tuesday. A decision on having kids in class on Wednesday has yet to be made.

The Pinellas County Consumer Protection is warning residents of possible price gouging as many in the Tampa Bay area prepare for impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa.

Residents and visitors are protected by the state’s price-gouging law because Pinellas County is included in the governor’s state of emergency declaration for the tropical storm. 

The county encourages residents who suspect price gouging to report it in one of the following ways: 

Tropical Storm Elsa is set to emerge from the coast of Cuba Monday night and head into the Florida Straits. The storm is currently packing 50-mph winds as it makes its trek toward Key West but some restrengthening is forecast as the storm moves over open water.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium announced it would stay open Tuesday but actively monitoring Tropical Storm Elsa. On Wednesday, the aquarium says it will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mermaids will be onsite from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Tampa Bay’s tropical storm warning now includes Citrus County, Hernando County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County and Sarasota County. A storm surge warning now includes all of Pinellas County, coastal Citrus County, Hernando County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County and Sarasota County. 

The Tampa Bay Rays’ three-game series against the Cleveland Indians at Tropicana Field has been adjusted, the MLB said. 

The game on Tuesday, July  6 has been rescheduled as a traditional single-admission doubleheader on Wednesday, July 7 at 12:10 p.m. Game 2 will begin approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of Game 1. 

No changes to track for Tropical Storm Elsa. Elsa is expected to intensify to near 65 mph Tuesday afternoon. Tropical-storm-force winds extend 70 miles out from the center of the storm.

ZooTampa said it would be closed Tuesday, July 6 due to the potential impacts of Tropical Storm Elsa. The zoo says it will be moving its larger animals into their “night houses,” which are made to withstand major storms. 

Hillsborough County Schools announced it would be shutting its doors at 1 p.m. on Tuesday and remain closed on Wednesday. School officials expect to reopen on Thursday.

Sarasota Parks & Recreation District’s pools, summer camps and all programming are “on hold” starting Tuesday, July 6, the city said. The following recreational facilities have been closed:

The immersive drone light show planned for July 6 at St. Pete Pier has been rescheduled for Saturday, July 31.

All Pasco County public schools and offices will close on Tuesday, July 6 at 3 p.m. and will remain closed all day Wednesday, July 7. School-based activities/events planned for the afternoon of Tuesday and Wednesday will also be canceled.

The city of Brooksville declared a local state of emergency and a voluntary evacuation order was put in place for coastal Zone A, mobile homes and low-lying areas. The Enrichment Center (ECI) in Brooksvillewill open at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6, as a shelter for residents, the city said. The Enrichment Center is located at 800 John Gary Grubbs Blvd.

Tuesday night’s city council meeting has been rescheduled for July 12. 

Tropical Storm Elsa makes landfall on the southern coast of Cuba. The storm’s maximum sustained winds dropped to 60-mph.

The Florida Forest Service announced all campgrounds and recreation areas in state forests that were in the path of Tropical Storm Elsa would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. 

12:26 p.m. Monday, July 5

Pinellas County Schools has announced it will be closed Tuesday, July 6 and Wednesday, July 7. All summer programs, including after-school care, will be canceled on those days. The school district said it plans on being fully operational by Thursday, July 8. 

11:26 a.m. Monday, July 5

The Pasco Sheriff’s Office provided more than 650 sandbags to people in the area on Monday.

11:15 a.m. Monday, July 5

Tropical storm warnings have been extended north along the west coast of Florida and now include the Tampa Bay area.

10:28 a.m. Monday, July 5

Hernando County declared a state of emergency in response to the potential impacts of Tropical Storm Elsa. Within the declaration was a voluntary evacuation order for coastal areas. A general population, special needs and pet-friendly shelter will open 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 6 at the Enrichment Center, 800 John Gary Grubbs Boulevard, for people who live in the evacuation zone.

To find out where your evacuation zone is, click here.

10:00 a.m. Monday, July 5 

A flood watch was issued for Tampa Bay until 4 a.m. on Wednesday. 

The Hardee County School District has announced it will be closed on Tuesday, July 6, as district staff monitors the track and forecast of Elsa. Any decision about whether to reopen on Wednesday, July 7, will be made by 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 6.

Venice city leaders shut down Humphris Park ahead of the expected wind and rain from Tropical Storm Elsa.

Tropical Storm Elsa nears landfall in west-central Cuba.

Elsa remains south of Cuba with maximum sustained winds near 65 mph. 

Some strengthening is possible before Elsa moves over Cuba later today, followed by some weakening while the center moves over land. Slight restrengthening is forecast after Elsa moves over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Parts of the Tampa Bay area remain under a Tropical Storm Surge Watch and Storm Surge Warning. 

10:30 p.m. Sunday, July 4

President Joe Biden approves Florida’s Emergency Declaration. 

“The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota,” a release from the White House said.

Tropical storm watch issued for parts of the west coast of Florida, including the Tampa Bay area. A storm surge watch has also been issued for the area. 

RELATED: NHC: Tropical storm watch issued for Tampa Bay ahead of Elsa

Pinellas County leaders adopt a local state of emergency ahead of potential impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa. 

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says the city “is ready” for any impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa. The city’s “Boom by the Bay” is still scheduled for Sunday as planned.

MacDill Air Force Base sticks outward toward Tampa Bay, which is good for flight traffic but not when a tropical storm threatens.

Leaders there announced Sunday afternoon that KC-135s from the 6th Air Refueling Wing are evacuating to McConnell Air Force Base, located in Wichita, Kansas, as a precaution.

They will return once the storm passes the area.

RELATED: MacDill Air Force Base evacuating aircraft ahead of Elsa

Elsa continues to hold onto tropical storm strength as it makes a pass north of Jamaica, but its expected approach to Florida tomorrow has prompted a warning for the Keys.

As of 2 p.m. Sunday, Elsa has 60-mph sustained winds and is moving northwest at 14 mph. The National Hurricane Center says the storm is making its way toward Cuba.

Additional counties and cities have announced sandbag locations for those interested. They do require people to show their ID to verify they live in the dsignated county.

RELATED: Where to get sandbags in Tampa Bay in preparation for Elsa

12:54 p.m. Sunday, July 4

Manatee County declared a local state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa. 

“It’s important for the public to monitor the storm and prepare for a possible tropical storm impacting our area,” Public Safety Director Jacob Saur said in a statement. “This will largely be a rain event but as the ground is already saturated, trees can easily topple from the winds produced by tropical storms in our area.”

The emergency order allows the county to better respond to the storm, the county says.

Tropical Storm Elsa weakened somewhat but remains a strong, 60-mph tropical cyclone, according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest update. A tropical storm warning now extends from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys.

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the state’s southwest coast from Flamingo northward to Bonita Beach.

10:41 a.m. Sunday, July 4

State officials activated Florida’s emergency operations center to better communicate information ahead of possible impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa. People are advised to have a supply kit ready to go, just in case.

The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority continues to run its buses but announced it will suspend service if winds from Tropical Storm Elsa reach 40 mph.

“The safety of our drivers and passengers is always our top priority at PSTA. We are committed to providing service, as long as it’s safe to do so,” Brad Miller, the CEO of PSTA said in a news release. “As we keep a close watch on Tropical Storm Eta’s path, we will continue to send updates to keep our community informed.”  

Tropical Storm Elsa has been holding steady Sunday morning as a 65-mph storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is bringing heavy rainfall to portions of Jamaica. 

A tropical storm watch remains in effect for the Florida Keys, where tropical storm conditions could impact this portion of the state first.

RELATED: Tropical Storm Elsa remains a strong system; Tampa Bay still needs to keep an eye on it

10:50 p.m. Saturday, July 3

Tropical Storm Elsa is battering the southern coasts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, downing trees and blowing off roofs as it speeds through the Caribbean, killing at least three people, the Associated Press reported.

The storm is forecast to hit Cuba next on a path that would take it to Florida.

7:20 p.m. Saturday, July 3

Gulfport city leaders advise people to prepare for potential flood impacts from Tropical Storm Elsa. 

Leaders say high winds, rain and flooding or storm surge may affect those living in low-lying or flood-prone areas during Tuesday’s 10 a.m. high tide. And leaders advised boaters to be prepared. 

Self-serve sandbags are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the 49th Street Neighborhood Center on 49th Street South. There’s a 10-bag limit. 

The city’s information call center opens 8 a.m. Sunday. Call 727-893-1000 if you have storm preparedness questions.

A tropical storm watch was issued for the Florida Keys as Elsa continues its path. Tampa Bay remains in the cone of uncertainty.

3:45 p.m. Saturday, July 3

Venice city leaders say the 9 p.m. July 4 fireworks show is still scheduled as planned at the South Jetty. 


3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 3

July 4 celebrations in St. Petersburg are still on, according to Mayor Rick Kriseman. Regarding Tropical Storm Elsa, “still lots of uncertainty, but no reason to stress right now,” Kriseman tweeted. “July 4th still a go in St. Pete,” he continued in part.

2:47 p.m. Saturday, July 3

Classes at the University of South Florida will go remote Tuesday in anticipation of Tropical Storm Elsa, the university announced.

1:54 p.m. Saturday, July 3

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody activated the state’s price gouging hotline in advance of Tropical Storm Elsa. It allows people to send reports of extreme price increases on essential commodities, such as food, water, gas and hotel rooms.

The number is 866-966-7226.

“It is important that Floridians keep an eye on Tropical Storm Elsa and make preparations now should the storm impact our state,” Moody said in a statement. “I have activated the Price Gouging Hotline to help Floridians purchasing essential commodities and ask that anyone who sees outrageous price increases on essential items please report it to our office immediately.”

12:03 p.m. Saturday, July 3

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port (COTP) St. Petersburg has set Port Condition X-ray at noon for the ports of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Manatee, according to a news release. Officials anticipate sustained gale force winds from Tropical Storm Elsa within 48 hours.

The ports and facilities remain open to all commerical traffic at this time.

11:05 a.m. Saturday, July 3

Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking Saturday morning in Surfside as search efforts are ongoing, announced a state of emergency for several Florida counties ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa.

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis issues state of emergency for parts of Florida ahead of Elsa

Elsa has been on a weakening trend overnight and now is a tropical storm, according to the hurricane center’s latest advisory. Still, a 70-mph system remains on the stronger end of tropical systems.

RELATED: Elsa weakens to a tropical storm, but Tampa Bay should continue monitoring

10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 3

Tampa crews are working to reduce the water level in several retention ponds to limit impacts from localized flooding that could be caused by Hurricane Elsa. It’s also a reminder for people to check their storm drains for any debris to ensure rainwater can flow through.

People in Pinellas Park can get up to 10 sandbags each with a water bill and/or valid driver’s license showing they live in Pinellas Park.

The following locations are open from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday:

  • Broderick Park: 6101 66th Ave N.
  • Helen Howarth Park: 6301 94th Ave N.
  • Pinebrook Park: 7202 118th Ave N.

RELATED: Where to get sandbags in Tampa Bay in preparation for Elsa

There are no significant changes with the National Hurricane Center’s 8 a.m. advisory on Hurricane Elsa. It remains a 75-mph storm speeding toward the west-northwest at 31 mph.

Conditions are expected to deteriorate during the next several hours over the southern coast of Hispaniola, forecasters said.

Hurricane Elsa appears less organized this morning as it continues to move rapidly into the Caribbean.

The National Hurricane Center says there is an increasing risk of storm surge, wind, and rainfall impacts beginning Monday in the Florida Keys and spreading northward along the Florida peninsula through Tuesday.

RELATED: Hurricane Elsa weakens slightly, Tampa Bay in the forecast cone for early next week

Hurricane Elsa has weakened slightly but is expected to get stronger as it moves across the easter Caribbean Sea throughout the evening.

Hurricane Elsa is moving through the eastern Caribbean Sea, prompting a hurricane watch for eastern Cuba and a hurricane warning for Jamaica.

Hurricane Elsa has grown stronger, although it remains a Category 1 storm, as it moves into the eastern Caribbean Sea. Elsa is now packing 85-mph sustained winds and moving west-northwest at almost 29 mph.  

“Boom by the Bay is on,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has announced.

The event is still expected to kick off at 5 p.m. Sunday, July 4, with a boat parade and the blessing of the fleet along the Tampa Riverwalk, despite the storm that may follow.

RELATED: Boom by the Bay 2021: Everything you need to know

11:42 a.m. Friday, July 2

The Coast Guard is setting port condition Whiskey starting at noon for the ports of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Manatee, and Ft. Myers due to the expectation of sustained gale force winds of 25 mph and gusts up to 40 mph generated from Hurricane Elsa that may arrive within 72 hours.

The National Hurricane Center has increased the forecasted winds of Hurricane Elsa in its newest update. Winds are now expected to reach 80 mph this afternoon through Saturday. While hurricane-force winds will continue Sunday morning, winds are expected to diminish a bit to around 65 mph by Sunday afternoon.

Sometime Monday, Elsa will begin to enter the Florida Straights. This is where uncertainty remains. The storm may continue into the Gulf of Mexico or start to turn to the Atlantic. 

If the storm moves far enough west into the Gulf of Mexico or east into the Atlantic, impacts in Tampa Bay will be less. 

If the storm remains more on the eastern side of the Gulf of Mexico, impacts for Tampa Bay will be higher.

The National Hurricane Center has upgraded Elsa to a Category 1 hurricane, making it the first hurricane of the year. Sustained winds of 75 mph have been reported as Elsa moves about 20 miles west-southwest of Barbados.

The latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center shows Tropical Storm Elsa has slightly strengthened as it moves quickly toward the west-northwest with sustained winds of 60 mph. Portions of the Lesser Antilles will soon see tropical storm conditions later this morning.

Winds now forecast in the cone to near hurricane strength at 70 mph by tomorrow. Then it weakens a bit, but we can’t rule out hurricane strength conditions in the Gulf. 

Tampa Bay remains in the cone, but chances for a shift to the east or farther west are still possible.

 The National Hurricane Center says Thursday evening that Tropical Storm Elsa is rapidly moving west-northwest in the Atlantic and could end up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical Storm Elsa currently has sustained winds of 50 mph. It is about 260 miles east-southeast of Barbados. The storm is moving west-northwest at 26 mph.

Tropical Storm Elsa currently has sustained winds of 45 mph. It is about 410 miles east-southeast of Barbados. The storm is moving rapidly west-northwest at 29 mph.

Models continue to vary on how much this system develops as it tracks across the Caribbean. Some forecast models strengthen the system and track it toward Hispaniola and Cuba, then through the Gulf of Mexico where a Florida landfall is possible.

Other models take it farther west, while some take it into the Atlantic.

Some models also develop the storm to near hurricane-strength winds, which begin at 74 mph. However, the National Hurricane Center continues to limit the storm’s winds to a maximum of 60 mph winds over the next 5 days.

As far as potential Tampa Bay impacts, it’s just too early as the track, and the intensity of Elsa is still uncertain. If it survives its track through the Caribbean, it could potentially get into the Gulf of Mexico early next week.

2:15 p.m. Thursday, July 1

Tropical Storm Elsa currently has sustained winds of 45 mph. It is about 600 miles east-southeast of the Windward Islands. The storm is moving west-northwest at 28 mph.

Models vary on how much this system develops as it tracks across the Caribbean. Some forecast models strengthen the system and track it toward Hispaniola and Cuba, then through the Gulf of Mexico where a Florida landfall is possible.

Other models take it farther west, while some take it into the Atlantic.

As far as potential Tampa Bay impacts, it’s just too early as the track, and the intensity of Elsa is still uncertain. If it survives its track through the Caribbean, it could potentially get into the Gulf of Mexico early next week.

RELATED: Tropical Storm Elsa now rapidly moving west-northwest, could move into Gulf: Spaghetti models

1:30 p.m. Thursday, July 1 

As Tropical Storm Elsa continues to make its approach toward the U.S., the City of Brooksville is looking to get a leg up on preparations.

The Department of Public Works announced it will be opening a self-service sandbag site beginning July 2 at 600 South Brooksville Avenue.

The site will be open 24-hours a day and provide bags, sand and shovels to those who looking to stock up ahead of the storm.

You will be required to fill and transport your own sandbags.

For more information, click here.

RELATED: City of Brooksville opens sandbag site ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa

Starting Thursday, Florida drivers can now use their hazards while driving during bad weather. 

The new allowance was part of a transportation bill Gov. Ron DeSantis signed. 

AAA Spokesperson Mark Jenkins feels that although drivers are now allowed to drive with hazardous lights on, they still shouldn’t use them being that they are ultimately used for stranded cars.

Before the new law, using hazard lights while driving in bad weather was illegal in Florida. 

RELATED: Drivers in Florida can now turn their hazard lights on in bad weather

Evacuation zone and storm surge maps

If an evacuation order is issued for your area, do you know which zone you’re inside or where you’re supposed to go?

The Florida Division of Emergency Management has a map for each county posted on its website, showing generalized evacuation zones and accessible routes.

Remember, these maps are posted as a reference. Any specific evacuation order is issued by local emergency managers.

Find the nearest shelter to you: Click here

The two biggest evacuation routes, if necessary, are I-75 north to the Georgia state line and I-4 into Orlando. In some evacuation situations, the highways will go into “contraflow,” meaning traffic in all lanes moves in the same direction.

For more information, click here.

RELATED: Evacuation zones and storm surge maps for the Tampa Bay area

RELATED: The ultimate hurricane survival kit: 2021 version

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

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