Meteorologists expect additional strengthening for Elsa as it moves over open water.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tropical Storm Elsa is once again over open water as the storm leaves Cuba behind and continues its trek toward Florida.
As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, Elsa has intensified to sustained winds of 60-mph and is moving north-northwest at 12 mph.
At 5 a.m. the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for the west-central and Big Bend coast of Florida from Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River.
> Breakdown of tropical storm alerts impacting the Tampa Bay area
Elsa became the first hurricane of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season as a Category 1 on July 2, but has since lost strength and was downgraded to a tropical storm.
RELATED: NHC: Tropical storm watch issued for Tampa Bay ahead of Elsa
Elsa is currently 270 miles south of Tampa and 50 miles southwest of Key West.
NHC reports the tropical storm is expected to move across the Florida Straits overnight Monday, passing near the Florida Keys early Tuesday morning.
LIVE BLOG: Tracking Tropical Storm Elsa
Tropical-storm-force winds (39+ mph) will likely start to develop in the Tampa Bay area during the early evening. Southern counties like Sarasota and Manatee will be the first to experience the stronger winds.
Winds from Elsa are expected to increase during the day Tuesday to 65 mph with higher gusts. These winds could be well inland, even slightly east of I-75.
A storm surge warning is in effect for all coastal areas in our viewing area. This includes all counties from Sarasota north to Citrus County. A storm surge of 2-4 feet is expected.
Rain totals are expected to reach 2-4 inches, with some locations seeing more than 6 inches.
There will also be a tornado risk, mainly during the afternoon and evening.
The following watches and warnings are now in effect:
- Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River, Florida
- The Cuban provinces of Matanzas, Mayabeque, Havana, and Artemisa
- The Florida Keys from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas
- West coast of Florida from Flamingo northward to the Ochlockonee River, including the Tampa Bay area – Citrus County, Hernando County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County and Sarasota County.
- West of the Ochlockonee River to Indian Pass, Florida
- West coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay – all of Pinellas County, coastal Citrus County, Hernando County, Hillsborough County, Manatee County and Sarasota County.
- West of the Aucilla River to the Ochlockonee River
Watch the storm updates closely this holiday weekend. Our 10 Tampa Bay team of meteorologists will be providing updates around the clock.
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