Elsa has downgraded into a Tropical Storm and is sitting about 60 miles west of Tampa. Landfall expected sometime this morning/early afternoon as a tropical storm near the Big Bend.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for a long stretch of coastline, from Egmont Key at the mouth of Tampa Bay to the Steinhatchee River in the Big Bend area. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in the Tampa Bay area, which is highly vulnerable to storm surge. The most powerful winds were forecast to remain offshore.
WPTV First Alert Chief Meteorologist Steve Weagle said several models have the rain ending late Tuesday evening, then the tail end of Elsa pushing to our coast Wednesday morning.
Officials said they're monitoring Tropical Storm Elsa very closely on Tuesday for any impacts it may have on the painstaking search-and-rescue operations at a collapsed Surfside condominium building.
Overnight Monday, thunderstorms and lightning forced crews to briefly pause their work at the Champlain Towers South condominium building, but it has since resumed. At least 32 people are dead and 113 are potentially missing, authorities said.
"We do continue to expect occasional gusts and strong showers today, and we're closely monitoring the weather," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said wind gusts from Elsa are hampering the movement of large cranes that are moving very heavy debris.
"That's a challenge that they're attempting to work around right now," Burkett said.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the search-and-rescue operation will only pause when there's a lightning strike within roughly two miles of the site.
WATCH NEWS CONFERENCE:
A Tropical Storm Warning has been extended northward from Altamaha Sound, Georgia, to Little River Inlet, South Carolina.
A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued from north of Little River Inlet, South Carolina, to Duck, North Carolina, including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River, Florida.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the west coast of Florida from Chokoloskee to south of Egmont Key, west coast of Florida north of Steinhatchee River to Ochlockonee River, and Mouth of St. Marys River, Georgia to Little River Inlet, South Carolina.
A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for west of the Aucilla River to the Ochlockonee River, Florida
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for north of Little River Inlet, South Carolina to Duck, North Carolina * Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds