MIAMI – A western shift and wind shear appear to have spared the Tampa Bay area more significant impacts from Elsa, which weakened back to a tropical storm shortly before passing the region.
With only a few hours to go until its expected landfall in the Cedar Key area, Tropical Storm Elsa was a disorganized rainmaker.
As of the 8 a.m. National Hurricane Center update, the storm had 65 mph maximum winds and its tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 90 miles from the center. It was headed north along the west coast at 14 mph and was about 115 miles northwest of Tampa and 35 miles west of Cedar Key.
Thousands of customers were without power in the Tampa Bay area Wednesday morning, and the area was still under a tropical storm warning and storm surge warning.
A hurricane warning was still in effect for the west coast of Florida from Chassahowitzka to the Steinhatchee River, but the hurricane center no longer predicted Elsa will regain hurricane strength before making landfall.
“While little change in strength is forecast before landfall, there is a chance that the new convection could cause a short-lived re-intensification. So, based on this possibility a hurricane warning remains in effect for portions of the west coast of Florida,” forecasters wrote in the 5 a.m. update.
The latest track projection shows Elsa holding on to tropical storm strength as it traveled inland toward Jacksonville, through Georgia and the Carolinas and then scrapes along the northeast coast from Delaware to Massachusetts.
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