Hurricane Elsa heads toward Florida

By Meg Wagner, Elise Hammond, Adrienne Vogt and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 9:39 p.m. ET, July 6, 2021
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7:55 p.m. ET, July 6, 2021

Elsa strengthens to 75 mph hurricane

From CNN's Taylor Ward

Elsa has strengthened again and is once again a hurricane, according to the 8 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. 

Elsa continues to move to the north at 14 mph, parallel to the west coast of Florida, and will make landfall Wednesday morning in the Big Bend region.

6:52 p.m. ET, July 6, 2021

Florida governor says 7 counties under hurricane warning and 33 counties under state of emergency 

From CNN's Maria Cartaya 

State of Florida
State of Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Tuesday to provide updates on the state's preparations for Tropical Storm Elsa.

Earlier today, the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for a portion of the west coast of Florida to reflect the increased strength,” DeSantis said.

“Elsa is forecast to become a hurricane before making landfall, with landfall appearing most likely in the eastern big bend of Florida or nature coast, north of Tampa Bay tomorrow morning,” DeSantis added.  

“Hurricane warnings are in place for the following seven counties: Dixie, Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas,” DeSantis said.  

“There are tropical storm warnings in place for 28 other counties,” the governor added.

DeSantis said a tornado watch for South Florida is in place until 11 p.m. ET Tuesday night.  

“The total counties under state of emergency are now at 33,” DeSantis added.  

DeSantis said there are about 1,500 customers across the state experiencing power outages. 

“We’ve got between all the various utilities more than 7,000 restoration personnel prepared to respond to these outages,” the governor said.

DeSantis reminded residents of the importance of having weather alerts turned on.  

“We’re anticipating a landfall probably between 8 a.m. ET and 9 a.m. ET tomorrow, somewhere again on the nature coast or big bend part of Florida,” DeSantis said.  

DeSantis asked residents to heed warnings from local officials.  

“There have not been any widespread evacuation orders,” the governor said.  

DeSantis said officials don’t anticipate major changes to the track of the storm, but they’ll continue to work with the National Hurricane Center and share updates.  


9:39 p.m. ET, July 6, 2021

New forecast: Elsa still close to hurricane strength and is expected to become a hurricane tonight

From CNN's Dave Hennen

Tropical Storm Elsa brings a downpour of rain over the neighborhood of Paradise Island on Treasure Island, Florida, on Tuesday afternoon, July 6.
Tropical Storm Elsa brings a downpour of rain over the neighborhood of Paradise Island on Treasure Island, Florida, on Tuesday afternoon, July 6. Marc Topkin/Tampa Bay Times/AP

Elsa continues to have maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, according to the new 5 p.m. EDT advisory from the National Hurricane Center. 

The hurricane and storm surge warning remain in effect for portions of Florida’s west coast, including Tampa.  

Strong winds, heavy rain, storm surge and possible tornadoes will continue to impact much of southwest Florida this evening, spreading farther north towards places like Tampa and Sarasota later tonight into Wednesday morning, as the center of the storm continues to parallel the coast.

Landfall is expected tomorrow morning north of Tampa as the storm begins to track northeast.

The storm will weaken once it moves inland, but will likely bring tropical storm conditions to portions of Georgia and the Carolinas where a new tropical storm warning has been issued.  

By Friday morning the center of Elsa will move into the Atlantic where it could strengthen again and bring heavy rain and strong winds to coastal sections of the Mid-Atlantic and New England.

5:12 p.m. ET, July 6, 2021

Here's what you need to prepare as Tropical Storm Elsa gets closer to making landfall

From CNN's Doug Criss and Christina Maxouris

Officials say Tropical Storm Elsa could make landfall tomorrow at "near hurricane strength." There are many steps you can take to protect yourself, your loved ones and your property.

Here are just some things you will want to have on hand as the storm approaches:

  • First aid kit
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • A week-long supply of prescription medicines
  • Non-perishable or canned foods
  • Water
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Cash
  • Rain gear and sturdy shoes

You should also stay inside and make sure your windows and doors and secure. Keep an eye on emergency weather alerts and forecasts for the latest information on the path of the storm. The Red Cross emergency app is also helpful.

Make sure you get ID tags for your pets and tie down and secure any outside items like lawn chairs.

You should also know where emergency shelters are located. If your area issues an evacuation, take it seriously and leave for your own safety.

Florida officials said on Tuesday that if an area calls for an evacuation, they will open shelters as-needed, especially for people with special needs.

You can download a full checklist of what you will need in a hurricane here.

4:58 p.m. ET, July 6, 2021

Florida National Guard starts preparations for Tropical Storm Elsa

From CNN’s Sara Weisfeldt and Rebekah Riess.

The Florida National Guard has started preparations in anticipation of Tropical Storm Elsa, activating 60 guardsmen to serve at the State Emergency Operations Center and the State Logistics Readiness Center, according to a release from the Guard.

According to the release, with approximately 12,000 soldiers and airmen assigned, the Florida National Guard can activate personnel as needed and directed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

“We are well-equipped with assets including high-wheeled vehicles, helicopters, boats and generators, and are preparing for possible missions to include humanitarian assistance, security operations, search and rescue, aviation, and more,” the release said.

4:51 p.m. ET, July 6, 2021

State of emergency expanded to include several more counties ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess and Devon Sayers

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order, expanding the state of emergency to include Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam, and Union counties ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa.

Additionally, the executive order removes the state of emergency from Franklin County.

5:09 p.m. ET, July 6, 2021

Tampa mayor to residents ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa: "Please stay home this evening"

From CNN's Hayley Simonson and Maria Cartaya

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and city safety officials gave a news conference Tuesday in preparation for Tropical Storm Elsa.  

“As it looks right now, this is going to remain a tropical storm,” Castor said.  

“Right now, what we’re looking at is the storm surge, which is predicted to be three to five feet and then winds as well. Winds can always be an issue, but it doesn’t, at this time, look as if it will go to hurricane strength," the mayor added.

Castor urged residents to be prepared and exercise common sense.  

“Please stay home this evening. You don’t need to be out. Do not go out.  We’re going to have a lot of rain, a lot of wind. Do not drive into water that you cannot see through, so that means don’t drive into water period,” said Castor.  

“We’re going to have some branches down, and we know what that means. That means some power outages,” the mayor said.

Chief Barbara Tripp of the Tampa Police Department assured residents that senior city staff will “be here to make sure things go smoothly.”  

4:14 p.m. ET, July 6, 2021

Busch Gardens in Tampa will close in anticipation of Tropical Storm Elsa's impact

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Due to the anticipated impact of Tropical Storm Elsa, Tampa Bay theme park Busch Gardens will close at 4:00 p.m. today, “to ensure the safety of our ambassadors, guests and animals,” according to the park’s website.

At this time, the park is expected to reopen at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

See the park's tweet:

3:36 p.m. ET, July 6, 2021

Florida's Manatee County urges residents to prepare for Elsa and secure their homes

From CNN’s Camille Furst

Florida's Manatee County is preparing for Tropical Storm Elsa to hit its region.

Florida Congressman Vern Buchanan said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon that the county could "have almost borderline terms of a hurricane.”

Although Elsa remains classified as a tropical storm with winds of 60 miles per hour, Buchanan said, "They're talking about potentially 75 mile-an-hour winds." Earlier today, the National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Elsa was "nearing hurricane strength."

Officials urged county residents to prepare for the storm.

County Administrator Scott Hopes said, "Please finalize your plans and secure your homes and get ready to sort of bunker down and ride out this storm."