First Alert Weather: 5 a.m. Elsa update
Tropical storm warnings remain in effect
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Tropical storm Elsa is expected to gain some strength over the southeast Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday but not enough to become a hurricane. At least that is the thinking right now.
It will have to battle some southwesterly shear and some drier air that will try and slip in from the Gulf. That should be enough to keep it at a 60 to 65 mph storm Tuesday. As of 5 a.m., the storm’s sustained winds are holding at 60 mph after it moved from Cuba back over the water into the Gulf of Mexico. Slow strengthening is forecast through tonight, and Elsa could be near hurricane strength before it makes landfall in Florida, well north of the Suncoast.
Tropical storm warnings are up for all of Sarasota and Manatee counties and much of western half of Charlotte County. That means tropical storm force winds of 40-50 mph are likely especially right along the coast -- and we could see some stronger wind gusts at times as some of the feeder bands working around and into the center of the storm.
The strongest winds will be closer to the center but with a sloppy storm like Elsa, a lot of the bad weather will be to the right or east of the center of tropical cyclone as it passes in the Gulf just to our west.
Rain will be one of the biggest issues with this storm. We could see anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of rain with some isolated amounts up to 6 to 8 inches in places. With the ground already saturated from the heavy rain we have had lately, it will not take much for some low lying areas to flood. We’re not expecting a widespread flooding event but we are under a flood watch through Wednesday morning. That flood watch now includes our entire viewing area.
Storm surge warnings are up for all of Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties. We can expect a 1-2 foot storm surge but shouldn’t be a big one. The high tide on Tuesday is around 9 a.m. and low tide is near 6 p.m. So when the surge moves in we should be close to low tide.
There will be a small chance for an isolated tornado as these bands of storms roll through. During these tropical systems tornados often spawn without little warning so be prepared to take shelter in your safe room if things start to get a little rough.
Be sure to download our ABC 7 First Alert Weather app as well to stay in touch wherever you are.
The timing of the worse weather will start after 2 p.m. in Charlotte and then work its way up north to Sarasota sometime after 4 p.m. and then Manatee a short time later.
The toughest part of the storms will be in the late afternoon and throughout the evening on Wednesday. We can still expect to see scattered storms in the morning as well. They won’t be as concentrated as the ones we will see during the midafternoon through the evening hours on Tuesday.
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