TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — All eyes are on Tropical Storm Elsa this holiday weekend as the system moves through the Caribbean Sea and toward Florida.
A tropical storm watch has already been issued for the Florida Keys, due to the risk of tropical storm conditions, storm surge, and rainfall impacts. But the National Hurricane Center stresses that uncertainty in Elsa’s forecast remains larger than usual because the system still has to potentially interact with Cuba.
As of 11 p.m. ET, Elsa was about 165 miles east-southeast of Cayo Largo, Cuba. The storm has strengthened slightly and is now moving at about 15 mph to the northwest.
Tampa Bay is also now being included in the tropical storm watch issued for parts of Florida.
The storm is forecast to move near parts of eastern Cuba Sunday before moving across central and western Cuba on Monday. Elsa is then expected to move toward the Florida Straits and move near or over parts of Florida’s west coast Tuesday and Wednesday.
The latest NHC advisory shows Elsa is holding steady as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds. The storm could strengthen overnight as it approaches Cuba, but is then expected to weaken as it moves over the island. Once it emerges off Cuba, over the Florida Straits and the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the system could re-strengthen slightly.
According to the NHC, tropical storm conditions and rainfall impacts could start on the Florida peninsula as soon as Monday night and last through Wednesday before reaching the coast of Georgia and the Carolinas on Wednesday and Thursday.
The following watches and warnings have been issued for Elsa:
Tropical Storm Warning:
- The Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara, Mayabeque and Havana
- The Florida Keys from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas
- The Cuban provinces of Cienfuegos and Matanzas
- The Cuban province of Camaguey
Storm Surge Watch:
- West coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Suwannee River
Tropical Storm Watch:
- Cayman Brac and Little Cayman
- The Cuban province of Artemisa
- The Florida Keys from east of Craig Key to Ocean Reef
- Florida Bay
- West coast of Florida from Flamingo northward to the Anclote River