The First Coast will feel the effects of Tropical Storm Elsa from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As of 2 p.m. Tuesday: Elsa is spreading tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rainfall over the Florida Keys. Heavy rainfall and flash flooding continue over west-central Cuba. The storm’s center is located about 65 miles west-northwest of Key West, Florida, and about 215 miles south of Tampa, Florida.
Tropical Storm Warnings are posted for the Suwannee River Valley in north Florida with Tropical Storm Watches for Baker, Union, and Bradford counties as well as coastal southeast Georgia.
A Flood Watch is in effect for all of northeast Florida and southeast Georgia through late Thursday night. Heavy rainfall of 2-4” with isolated amounts up to 6” is forecast through Wednesday evening, which may lead to flooding especially where grounds are saturated.
The First Coast should expect to feel impacts from Elsa with a continued stormy pattern through Wednesday. The biggest impact to monitor will be heavy rainfall and stronger, damaging winds in severe storms. There is also a threat for isolated tornadoes since the Jacksonville area is forecast to be on the eastern side of Elsa’s center as it treks north-northeast. The ground is already very saturated with recent, prolonged wet weather. It won’t take much wind to cause tree damage.
Early Tuesday might be a good time to clear gutters and tidy up any loose vegetation or tree limbs across your property ahead of Elsa moving through. The First Coast’s weather will improve by Wednesday night, but isolated storm chances will continue Thursday with the west flow.
The following are some flood-prone areas due to rain, not storm surge
Elsa Cone, Computer and Spaghetti Models
FIRST COAST IMPACTS:
- Rounds of heavy rainfall will continue through Wednesday evening, which could aggravate ongoing river and creek flooding and enhance the potential for localized flash and urban / small stream flooding.
- There is a potential for tropical storm-force winds (mainly inland) with damaging wind gusts of 60 mph in severe storms, which could lead to fallen trees or tree limbs and power outages late Tuesday and Wednesday.
- Any wobbles in the storm’s track could affect the extent of these impacts, so continue to check-in for updates.
Elsa is also the earliest-known fifth named storm on record for the Atlantic basin in the satellite era (1966-present), breaking the record formerly held by Edouard on July 6, 2020.
It should be noted that the average NHC track errors are 175 miles and 200 miles at days 4 and 5, respectively. Given the larger-than-normal uncertainty and because hazards will extend well away from the center of the storm, everyone is urged to not focus on the exact forecast points.
NHC KEY MESSAGES:
1. Heavy rain will impact Cuba today resulting in significant flooding and mudslides. As Elsa moves across the western Florida Peninsula through Wednesday, heavy rainfall may result in isolated flash, urban, and minor river flooding, with considerable flash and urban flooding possible in southwest and western portions of Florida. Mid to late week, heavy rainfall across coastal Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and southeastern Virginia may result in isolated flash and urban flooding, with considerable flash and urban flooding possible across coastal Georgia and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
2. There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the west coast of Florida tonight and Wednesday, and a Storm Surge Warning is in effect for that area.
3. A Hurricane Watch has been issued for a portion of the west-central and Big Bend coast of Florida, where hurricane conditions are possible tonight and early Wednesday. Tropical storm conditions are expected across portions of the Florida Keys and much of the west coast of the state, where a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect.
4. A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the Georgia coast and portions of the South Carolina coast, where tropical storm conditions are possible late Wednesday and early Thursday.
Hurricane season is already here and it’s time to be prepared if you aren’t already. Make sure you have had conversations with your loved ones about what you would do if a storm were to threaten.
This year, NOAA released the new seasonal averages for the Atlantic basin. According to the 30-year data from 1991 to 2020, the new averages include 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The previous Atlantic storm averages, based on the period from 1981 to 2010, were 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. The averages from 1951-1980 , were 11 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 1 major.
Hurricane safety and preparedness are critically important before the season begins on June 1. NOAA’s National Weather Service provides resources to prepare for hurricane hazards and real-time updates about active weather systems from the National Hurricane Center at www.hurricanes.gov.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30.
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