Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to hit the Carolina coastline with heavy rain and strong winds starting Wednesday.
Elsa was located 35 miles west of Cedar Key, Fla., And 115 miles northwest of Tampa, Fla., At 8 a.m. Wednesday. The storm was moving north at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. Tropical storm force winds – which range from 39 mph to 73 mph – extend up to 90 miles from central Elsa.
Tropical storm conditions could reach parts of the Carolinas from Wednesday evening, forecasters said.
The National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning from the mouth of the St. Mary’s River in Georgia to Little River Inlet in South Carolina, near the border with North Carolina.
A tropical storm watch is in effect from Little River Inlet in Chincoteague, Virginia, covering the coast of North Carolina.
According to the National Hurricane Center, a tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are “expected somewhere in the alert zone” and tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are “possible in the area of. surveillance ”.
The winds of Elsa are most likely to reach South Carolina late Wednesday or early Thursday and North Carolina Thursday, depending on the forecast.
The storm could dump between 2 and 4 inches of rain over the South Carolina Lowcountry, with up to 6 inches possible in some areas. The coast of North Carolina could grow between 1 and 3 inches with up to 5 inches possible in some areas from Wednesday evening to Thursday evening.
The rain could lead to sudden and urban flooding, forecasters say.
The mouth of the St. Mary’s River to the South Santee River in South Carolina could experience a 1 to 2 foot storm surge.
The eastern part of South Carolina could also experience “a few tornadoes” Wednesday night, and the “threat is expected to shift to the Eastern Carolinas” on Thursday.
The Wilmington office of the National Weather Service says that a high risk of reverse currents is also one of the tropical storm’s main threats to the coast.
From Wednesday morning, there is a high risk of reverse currents along much of the South Carolina coast and parts of the North Carolina coast. Other areas are at moderate risk of reverse currents.
A high risk indicates that “potentially fatal reverse currents are likely” and people should stay out of the water as the surf area is “unsafe for all levels of swimmers”.
Forecasters said “interests” elsewhere in the Carolinas should also monitor the progress of the storm.
“On track, Elsa will make landfall along the northern Gulf Coast of Florida in the late morning or this afternoon,” the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday. “The storm is then expected to move through the southeast and central United States through Thursday.”
Elsa reached hurricane strength Tuesday night before reverting to a tropical storm early Wednesday.
Forecasters say “little change in force is likely” until Elsa reaches land later Wednesday. The storm is then expected to weaken after moving over land.
Elsa’s current track shows it remains a tropical storm over North and South Carolina.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and state emergency management officials said Tuesday that residents of eastern and central North Carolina should “Be prepared for heavy rains and possible flooding.”
“Small changes in the predicted path of a tropical system can mean big changes in storm impacts and precipitation amounts,” Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said in a statement. “That’s why paying close attention to the forecast for your region is important. “
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and the state’s Emergency Management Division also encouraged residents on Tuesday to “Finalize their storm preparations ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa.”