Elsa Headed for Florida Tuesday, Likely to Bring Impacts to South Carolina Wednesday
Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings and a Storm Surge Watch are posted a little more than a day prior to the arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa's effects in Florida. Some effects are likely in South Carolina come Wednesday and Wednesday night.
Elsa was just about to pass over central Cuba late Monday morning. Top sustained winds were near 65 mph as of the mid-morning advisory from the National Hurricane Center. It is still moving steadily toward the northwest at about 14 mph, but it is about half the speed it was moving Friday and Saturday morning.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas, including Key West. The warning extends northward along the west coast from Flamingo to Englewood, including the Naples and Fort Myers areas. Warnings are issued when tropical storm force winds are likely within 24 hours. Tropical Storm Watches are up from north of Englewood to the Aucilla River, including Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and the Nature Coast. Tropical storm conditions are possible in these areas starting Tuesday afternoon from Sarasota and Manatee counties into the Tampa/St. Pete areas. These conditions are likely to spread toward the Nature Coast Tuesday night.
Elsa is likely to remain at tropical storm intensity as it moves over South Carolina Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. Heavy rainfall and isolated tornadoes are an increasing possibility. Rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches, with isolated amounts as high as 5 inches, are forecast over much of South Carolina. The highest totals are expected from the Midlands to the coastal areas. The heaviest bands are capable of flash flooding, urban flooding, and minor river flooding. The rain is likely to start in the Lowcountry Wednesday morning, spreading into the Pee Dee, Grand Strand, and Midlands late Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night.
Occasional wind gusts to tropical storm force, around 40 mph, are possible along the immediate coastline. These gusts may occur briefly away from the coast, too, with some of the strongest bands on Wednesday night. The eastern half of South Carolina will be to the east of the storm's center. This places this part of the state in a favorable position for isolated tornadoes. These brief tornadoes could occur mainly Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday night.
Conditions are likely to improve statewide once Elsa moves northeastward into the North Carolinas Thursday morning.