[Original story, published at 10:24 a.m. ET]
It was heading north towards the Big Bend area, where it is expected to make landfall Wednesday morning on a path that will likely take it to Georgia, the Carolinas and possibly the Mid-Atlantic Coast.
Besides heavy rains and flooding, Elsa threatens winds of 40 mph and above in already saturated areas of northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina – which could topple trees and power lines.
“We had a lot of precipitation last month. If you have winds at 40 mph or 50 mph, some of those trees are going to fall,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said Wednesday morning.
“There is still a lot of damage to be done.”
Flooding was occurring Wednesday morning in parts of southwest Florida where Elsa’s outer bands were still dropping rain. This included the Fort Myers area, where high water made some roads impassable, the National Weather Service said.
Because hurricane force gusts are still possible, a hurricane warning is in place Wednesday morning for the west coast of Florida from Chassahowitzka (about 60 miles north of Tampa) to southern Taylor County in the Big Bend area in Florida.
The system weakened to a tropical storm early Wednesday after becoming a Category 1 hurricane on Tuesday. More than 13 million people are subject to a tropical storm warning in parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
While Elsa’s most intense effects were felt in West Florida, the Outer Bands sent rain and winds to parts of the eastern state as well.
Counties and Utilities Prepare Before the Storm
Ahead of the storm, Tampa officials urged residents on Tuesday to stay home and prepare.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday expanded his declaration of a state of emergency to include 33 counties as local, state and utility resources prepared for the storm.
The Florida National Guard has activated 60 guards and is ready to activate more for storm-related operations such as high seas rescues or humanitarian aid, he said.
Shelters were opened in at least five counties on Tuesday, and two counties issued voluntary evacuation orders.
Additional line workers and support staff were also brought in from the Carolinas, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, the statement said.
Elsa is expected to visit Georgia and South Carolina
Prior to Elsa’s Florida landing, tropical storm warnings were issued for parts of Georgia and South Carolina, and a Tropical Storm Watch was issued for parts of North Carolina and South Carolina. Virginia.
After disembarking in Florida, Elsa’s center is expected to travel to Georgia on Wednesday and South Carolina on Thursday, and then eventually move to the Mid-Atlantic Coast.
About 2 to 6 inches of rain is expected in parts of southeastern Georgia and the South Carolina lowlands, the hurricane center said.
About 1 to 5 inches of rain is possible in coastal parts of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia through Thursday night, according to the hurricane center.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in 91 of the 159 counties in his Elsa Preparedness State.
“This storm system has the potential to produce destructive impacts on the citizens of the central, southern and coastal regions of the state of Georgia and due to the possibility of knocking down trees, power lines and debris, the grid Georgia road can be made impassable in affected counties, isolating residences and people from access to essential public services, âKemp said.
CNN’s Michael Guy, Rebekah Riess, Gregory Lemos, Sara Weisfeldt, Dave Alsup, Devon Sayers, Tina Burnside and Camille Furst contributed to this report.