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Tropical Storm Elsa kills 1 in Florida; damages Navy base in Georgia

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Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall in Taylor County on Florida's Gulf Coast on Wednesday morning. The storm lashed the state with heavy wind and rain as it moved north. A Navy base in Georgia reported several injuries and damage to a campground after a suspected tornado struck the area.

The storm has been blamed for at least one death in the U.S. A Florida man was killed Wednesday when heavy rain and wind caused a tree to fall on two cars, officials said. At least three people were killed in the Caribbean before the storm hit Florida, according to The Associated Press.

As of 11 p.m. ET, Elsa was located about 80 miles northwest of Brunswick, Georgia, with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. The storm is expected to move over Georgia on Wednesday night then over the Carolinas on Thursday. Elsa is moving toward the north-northeast at about 16 mph, forecasters said. Heavy rainfall is expected and could lead to isolate flash and urban flooding, per the hurricane center.

Elsa strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane for several hours on Tuesday night before weakening into a tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Elsa 2021
Tropical Storm Elsa makes landfall on July 7, 2021, in Cedar Key, Florida. Mark Wallheiser / Getty Images
 

New warnings issued for North Carolina and mid-Atlantic states

There are new tropical storm warnings issued for North Carolina and the mid-Atlantic states, per the National Hurricane Center's 11 p.m. ET advisory.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the following areas:

  • Little River Inlet, South Carolina to Great Egg Inlet, New Jersey
  • Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds (North Carolina)
  • Chesapeake Bay south of North Beach and the tidal Potomac south of Cobb Island
  • Delaware Bay south of Slaughter Beach

A tropical storm watch is in effect for the following areas:

  • North of Great Egg Inlet, New Jersey to Sandy Hook, New Jersey
  • Long Island from East Rockaway Inlet to the eastern tip along the south shore and from Port Jefferson Harbor eastward on the north shore
  • New Haven, Connecticut, to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket
 

Possible tornado damage reported at Navy base in Georgia

Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary's, Georgia, said a "suspected tornado" touched down at the base, causing several injuries and "damage to multiple recreational vehicles" at the RV park there.

The base said many of those who were injured were transported to medical facilities for treatment.

Further damage assessments are ongoing, the base said.

By Peter Martinez
 

"Very heavy rain" heads to Georgia

Tropical Storm Elsa is making its way to southern Georgia, bringing with it "very heavy rain," according to the National Hurricane Center. Elsa is forecasted to move over Georgia by Wednesday night.

The storm has maximum sustained winds of nearly 45 mph with even higher gusts, and is expected to weaken as it continues to move over land, forecasters said.

Three to 5 inches of rain, with a potential maximum of 8 inches, will affect areas of southeast Georgia and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Tornadoes are possible throughout northern Florida and southeastern Georgia, into eastern South Carolina as well.

The National Hurricane Center predicts Elsa will move over North and South Carolina on Thursday before moving near, or over, the mid-Atlantic coast on Friday.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency for 92 of the state's counties on Wednesday evening in preparation for the tropical storm.

"We want to urge Georgians to take every precaution, and not discount the threat Elsa poses because it has been downgraded to a Tropical Storm," said Chris Stallings, director of Georgia's Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency. "The potential for flooding and high winds, along with isolated tornadoes is enough of a threat that everyone should make necessary preparations in anticipation of Tropical Storm Elsa's arrival in Georgia later today."

By Tori B. Powell
 

Sea foam forms off the coast of Clearwater, Florida

 

Tracking Tropical Storm Elsa

Tracking Elsa as storm moves north 01:08

CBS New York chief weathercaster Lonnie Quinn has more on where Elsa is heading next.  

 

Warnings and watches as of 5 p.m. ET

The following warnings and watches were in effect as of Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • Mouth of St. Marys River, Georgia to Little River Inlet, South Carolina

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • North of Little River Inlet, South Carolina to Sandy Hook, New Jersey
  • Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds
  • Chesapeake Bay south of North Beach and the tidal Potomac south of Cobb Island
  • Delaware Bay south of Slaughter Beach
  • Long Island from East Rockaway Inlet to the eastern tip along the south shore and from Port Jefferson Harbor eastward on the north shore
  • New Haven, Connecticut to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts including
  • Cape Cod, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for Long Island from East Rockaway Inlet to the eastern tip along the south shore and from Port Jefferson Harbor to the eastern tip along the north shore.

A Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for the coast of southern New England from New Haven, Connecticut to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts including Cape Cod, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket.

All warnings have been discontinued along the Florida Gulf coast.

By Tori B. Powell
 

Man killed after storm topples tree in Florida

A man was killed Wednesday after heavy rain and wind caused a tree to fall on two cars in Florida, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department confirmed to CBS News. A department spokesperson blamed the death on conditions caused by Hurricane Elsa, making the man's death the first in the U.S. to be linked to the storm. 

By Victoria Albert
 

Photos show Elsa's impact

Photographers across Florida took photos of the storm as it hit the state. 

Elsa
Waves crash against the balustrades on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa on July 7, 2021. OCTAVIO JONES / REUTERS
Elsa
Palm leaves lay on the ground following heavy rain and wind on July 7, 2021, in Westchase. Arielle Bader/Tampa Bay Times via AP
Capsized Boat Rescue
A man treads water and awaits rescue crews approximately 32 miles southeast of Key West on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. U.S. Coast Guard via AP
elsa3.jpg
Cranes cross the road on July 7, 2021, in Westchase. Arielle Bader/Tampa Bay Times via AP
By Tori B. Powell
 

Forecasters say Elsa is weakening

Tropical Storm Elsa is weakening as it moves further inland over Florida, according to forecasters. Maximum sustained winds were about 50 mph by Wednesday afternoon, down from 65 mph earlier in the day.

However, tropical storm conditions are expected to continue along Florida's Gulf coast in the warning area on Wednesday, from the Suwannee River to the Ochlockonee River. Later today, tropical storm conditions are expected on Georgia's coast.

In Florida, some areas could see up to 4 feet of storm surge. 

"A few tornadoes are possible today and tonight across northern Florida and southeastern Georgia into eastern South Carolina," the National Hurricane Center says. "The tornado threat should shift to the eastern Carolinas and far southeast Virginia on Thursday."

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

More than 27,000 power outages reported in Florida

More than 27,000 power outages were being reported in Florida as of Wednesday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us. 

More than 7,000 workers have prepared to respond to those without power, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference Tuesday. 

Melissa Seixas, the president of Duke Energy in Florida, said personnel are "actively restoring outages in areas where the storm has passed."

By Tori B. Powell
 

Tallahassee forecasters: "Turn around and don't drown"

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee is warning residents of possible flash flooding in the area. The agency reported intense rainfall with storm surge flooding occurring along the Dixie County coast.

"Remember, if you come across flooding on the road, to respect the barriers and also to turn around and don't drown," the NWS Tallahassee tweeted Wednesday.

By Stephen Smith
 

Tropical Storm Elsa is making landfall

The National Hurricane Center said  Tropical Storm Elsa is making landfall in Taylor County, located on Florida's Gulf Coast. 

"Elsa is moving toward the north near 14 mph, and a generally northward motion is expected to continue through this afternoon," the center said in its 11 a.m. advisory. "A turn toward the north-northeast is expected late this afternoon or tonight, followed by a faster northeastward motion by late Thursday."

"On the forecast track, Elsa will continue to move inland into Florida this afternoon," it said. "The storm should then move across the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States through Thursday."

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

FEMA on what do to under a tornado warning

FEMA is advising people who are under a tornado warning due to the storm to quickly get to a sturdy building or safe room and stay away from windows and doors.

It urges people not to go under an overpass or bridge, but go to place that is low and flat.

 

Coast Guard searches for 9 people missing off Key West

A search is continuing Wednesday for nine people believed to be missing in the waters southeast of Key West. 

The Coast Guard said it and a good Samaritan rescued 13 people after a vessel coming from Cuba capsized on Tuesday about 26 miles southeast of Key West.

Two females and seven males are still missing, survivors told the Coast Guard.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Florida governor: "Be safe and use common sense"

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said there were no reports of fatalities or significant structural damage due to Elsa as of early Wednesday. But he asked Floridians to "simply be safe and use common sense" as the storm passes across the state. 

"Don't drive your vehicle into standing water," he said, warning that a small car can be swept away by as little as 12 inches of fast- moving water.

He urged people not to approach or touch hanging or fallen power lines, or use generators inside a home or garage or outside near an open window open due to threats of carbon monoxide poisoning. There have been more deaths from carbon monoxide in the last four years than from direct storm impacts, he said.

The governor said that while no deaths from the storm have been reported so far, "we typically have seen fatalities after the storm passes." Elsa's impact on the state, however, has so far been less than what officials "thought would be reasonable."

Florida governor gives Elsa update 14:59
By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Tampa International Airport resuming operations

Tampa International Airport says operations will resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday after flights were stopped on Tuesday evening because of Elsa. The reopening is taking place earlier than expected. 

"TPA's Operations team made the determination to open early after evaluating the airfield and airport facilities for storm damage from Elsa, which brought gusts of up to 41 miles per hour overnight," the airport said in a release

"The Airport did not sustain any damage from the storm. TPA's roadways are clear, and the garages and rental car center are open," it said. 

However, flight delays and cancellations remain possible. The airport advises travelers to check schedules with their airlines and get to the airport two hours ahead of their flight departure times. 

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Authorities in Tampa warn of dangerous conditions

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in Tampa is urging people to stay off the roads Wednesday morning. 

"If you can stay inside this morning, do it!" the sheriff's office tweeted. "Wet grounds and wind causing a few downed trees."

It said a tree fell on the roof of a car early Wednesday when a driver ventured out at 4:30 in the morning. The driver wasn't injured.

By Sarah Lynch Baldwin
 

Latest advisory from Hurricane Center stresses flood risk

The National Hurricane Center warned in its 5 a.m. Eastern advisory that Tropical Storm Elsa could cause "considerable flash, urban and isolated moderate river flooding" as it moves over the Florida Peninsula on Wednesday.

The center reiterated the possibility of life-threatening storm surge along parts of the state's Gulf Coast, and stressed that some portions of the coast could still experience hurricane-like conditions.

By Tucker Reals
 

Caution, but no evacuations in Georgia, North Carolina

In Georgia, a tropical storm warning was posted along the portion of the coast of Brunswick, with the National Hurricane Center saying tropical storm conditions with sustained winds of up to 50 mph (80 kph) are expected in parts of southeast Georgia.
 
"Right now, we're basically looking at a cloudy, rainy and windy day," Glynn County Emergency Management Agency Director Alec Eaton told the Brunswick News on Tuesday. "I feel confident we can sit down and let it pass over us without any major impacts. Hopefully."
 
To the north in South Carolina, emergency officials were watching Elsa, but no evacuations were ordered during the peak summer beach tourism season.

085826-peak-surge.png
A graphic provided by the National Hurricane Center shows the predicted peak storm surge from Tropical Storm Elsa, as of 5 a.m. Eastern on July 7, 2021.  National Hurricane Center/NOAA

The storm was expected to track inland, but coastal forecasters noted the worst weather was on the east side of the storm and could dump up to 5 inches of rain and bring wind gusts up to 55 mph in places like Hilton Head Island, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.  

By Associated Press
 

Tampa airport closed overnight

Tampa International Airport suspended operations at 5 p.m. Tuesday and planned to resume flights at 10 a.m. Wednesday, following a check for any storm damage, according to its website.  

The airport urged passengers to check with their specific airlines regarding travel plans not only for Wednesday, but the coming days given the disruptions caused by the storm.

By Tucker Reals
 

Thousands without power

By Wednesday morning, Elsa had left almost 13,000 Florida residents without power, according to PowerOutage.us

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis advised residents to turn on weather alerts, prepare food and water for seven days, and to follow local evacuation orders as Elsa neared the state's coastline on Tuesday.

Most of the outages were reported in Dixie and Gilchrest Counties, which sit along the state's northern Gulf Coast.

By Tucker Reals
 

Sarasota-Bradenton airport set to reopen, with delays

Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport halted all operations at 6:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday as Elsa headed into the region. 

Operations were expected to resume at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, but the airport's website showed all flights cancelled or delayed until at least 9 a.m. 

Travelers were advised to check with their airlines for information on flight schedules. 

By Tucker Reals
 

Elsa complicates search efforts in Surfside

Tropical Storm Elsa complicated search efforts in Surfside nearly two weeks after a condo building in the town collapsed. Search crews at the Champlain Towers South collapse site worked through the night while dealing with the rain bands and gusty wind from the storm. 

At least 80 search and rescue team members are working on the pile at any given time, rotating in 12-hour shifts.

When there was thunder and lightning on Tuesday, the search was temporarily paused.

"They are continuing their mission of the search of the collapsed area," said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, CBS Miami reports. "They've worked under this great difficulty, and they have pulled shifts to rotate because that's how much they want to be out there searching. The first responders are the most frustrated by any delays we have. They live to save lives."

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