The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Tropical Storm Elsa came ashore late Wednesday morning (local time) on Florida’s northwest coast, bringing a storm surge and heavy rain but sparing the region hurricane force winds.
After briefly intensifying once again to hurricane strength late Tuesday, Elsa weakened overnight as it approached the western Florida coastline.
The hurricane center said the storm came ashore in Taylor County, about 83 kilometers southeast of Tallahassee. At last report, the storm had maximum sustained winds of about 100 km per hour and forecasters expect it to move to the north-northeast over the course of the next 24 hour.
The track has it moving across the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States through Thursday, where tropical storm watches have been issued.
The storm is expected to bring heavy rain, possible flooding and the chance of tornados and severe thunderstorms.
In comments to the media, Florida Governor Ron Desantis said the area where the storm came on shore is lightly populated and no serious damage or injuries were reported. He said the state is fortunate because the situation is better than it looked three days ago and the impact is likely to be less severe than had been feared.
The Associated Press reports about 26,000 people were without power in western and northwestern Florida.
Elsa swept over Cuba’s southcentral coast Monday, bringing strong winds, heavy rains and storm surges.
Cuban officials said they had evacuated 180,000 people from homes in flood-prone areas.
The Associated Press and Reuters News services contributed to this report.