Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Tropical Storm Elsa on track to move over Florida bringing the risk of tornadoes and storm surge

TUESDAY, JULY 6, 2021 AS OF 11:00 AM EST

Tropical Storm Elsa is approximately 55 miles west off the coast of Key West, Florida, moving 12 miles per hour (mph) with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC). Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center of the storm, and the Key West International Airport recorded wind gusts of 48 mph. Elsa is projected to pass near the Florida Keys on the morning of Tuesday, July 6, before moving close to or over parts of the west coast of Florida later in the day. The storm is predicted to make landfall along the northern Florida coast by Wednesday morning before moving northeastward across the southeastern United States (US) on Thursday. 

GOES-East – Sector view Gulf of Mexico – GeoColor: NOAA

The NHC cautioned that life-threatening storm surge could take place across parts of the west coast of Florida, stretching throughout Wednesday, with a possible risk of tornadoes through Tuesday evening across the Florida Peninsula. The possibility of tornadoes could continue across north Florida, southeast Georgia, and the Lowcountry of South Carolina through Wednesday. Coastal sections of North Carolina to southeastern Virginia are expected to face one to three inches of rain, with isolated totals of five inches, which could result in isolated flash and urban flooding.

NWS Miami: Twitter

Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-151 on Monday, July 5, expanding the state of emergency in Florida to Alachua, Colombia, Dixie, Franklin, Hamilton, Gilchrist, Jefferson, Lake, Lafayette, Madison, Marion, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla counties. These counties join an existing emergency declaration and remove a state of emergency declaration for DeSoto, Hardee, and Miami-Dade counties as the state prepares for Tropical Storm Elsa to continue moving through the state. Order 21-151 grants counties Public Assistance (PA) Category B funding, which allows local governments to receive reimbursement for mass care, sheltering support, and evacuation as necessary. 

In a press conference held on July 3, Governor DeSantis “encouraged Floridians to begin their preparation effort,” such as building a stocked disaster kit with at least seven days of supplies and planning evacuation routes in case weather becomes severe. Additionally, he urged residents to “plan for your pets, anyone in your home with special needs, and check on your neighbors and the elderly.” 

Flash Flood Safety Tips: NOAA 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages individuals to take the necessary precautions and prepare for tornadoes. Tornadoes can appear suddenly, destroy buildings, flip cars, and create deadly flying debris. FEMA suggests individuals under Tornado Warnings seek shelter right away. FEMA also provides instructions for individuals to prepare before a tropical storm or hurricane, cautioning them to prepare in advance for extreme weather conditions. It is crucial to know that flash floods can develop with little to no warning, and individuals should seek out higher ground, avoid walking or driving in flood waters, and listen to the warnings of local authorities. The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing relevant disaster and incident coverage throughout the 2021 Hurricane Season.

PUBLIC ADVISORIES

Here’s the breakdown of public advisories from NOAA’s NHC:

TROPICAL STORM WARNING: 

RELATED STORIES

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HURRICANE SEASON 2021