ORLANDO, Fla. — Tropical Storm Elsa continues to move toward Florida’s northern Gulf Coast. Read live updates below:
11 p.m. update
Several tornado watches are in effect for several Central Florida counties.
A tornado watch is in effect for Orange County through 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Tornado watches are also in effect for Lake, Seminole, Volusia, Osceola, Sumter and Marion counties.
10:10 p.m. update
Channel 9 Chief Meteorologist Tom Terry has given a LIVE update on Hurricane Elsa. Watch below:
8:50 p.m. update
Tropical storm reports are coming in between Sarasota and Port Charlotte, with 40 to 50 MPH wind gusts. The center of Elsa is located just offshore.
7:45 p.m. update
Elsa has regained hurricane status southwest of Tampa Bay, the National Hurricane Center tweeted Tuesday evening.
7:30 p.m. update
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay announced Tuesday afternoon that it will be closing its theme park early due to Tropical Storm Elsa.
The park closed at 4 p.m. and is expecting to reopen at noon on Wednesday.
6:45 p.m. update
Tropical Storm Elsa is just off the coast near Fort Myers, with much of the rain offset to the east and northeast as the convection tries to wrap around the center, Channel 9 meteorologist George Waldenberger said.
Elsa is expected to pass well west of Volusia and Flagler counties. The storm will bring a risk of tornadoes overnight and into the morning, Waldenberger said. Flagler and inland Volusia counties are under a flood watch.
Passing squally rain bands will also stir up rough coastal waters as well.
6 p.m. update
Channel 9 reporter Jeff Deal is in Madeira Beach, watching as the Gulf coast prepares for Elsa to make landfall.
Deal said more and more rain is starting to move in to the area, and the beach is clearing out as people prepare to hunker down for the storm.
Officials said they are not issuing any mandatory evacuations in the area, but are advising people living in low-lying areas to seek shelter.
Officials said their biggest concerns are storm surge and the possibility of flooding.
At 6 p.m., officials said they are going to limit bridge access to the island to only those who live, work or are staying in hotels there.
5:15 p.m. update
The National Hurricane Center said Tuesday afternoon that Elsa remains a tropical storm.
Elsa has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph and is moving north at 10 mph.
The storm is expected to become a hurricane before making landfall over Florida’s northern Gulf Coast.
Strong winds and heavy rainfall will spread northward across west-central Florida through Tuesday evening.
Western Marion County will have a 90% to 100% chance of experiencing tropical storm force winds while southern Brevard County will have less than a 10% chance overnight and into Wednesday.
Gov. Ron DeSantis will be releasing new details about the state’s preparations for Elsa at 5:30 p.m. You can stream his remarks live by clicking here.
Watch chief meteorologist Tom Terry track Elsa live in Severe Weather Center 9 by clicking here.
4 p.m. update
Chief meteorologist Tom Terry is in Severe Weather Center 9, tracking Tropical Storm Elsa as it teeters on the edge of becoming a hurricane again.
3:15 p.m. update
Channel 9 meteorologist George Waldenberger said the latest advisories linked to Tropical Storm Elsa include hurricane warnings for the Tampa area and west coast of Florida; tropical storm warnings for Marion, Sumter and Alachua counties; and a tropical storm watch for Lake County.
He said the rest of Central Florida should prepare for a risk of flooding or tornados overnight.
2:50 p.m. update
Marion County officials said they are opening West Port High School in Ocala at 4 p.m. for people with special needs living in Dunnellon, Lake Tropicana and the surrounding area ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa.
People can call 352-369-7500 if they have questions or need a ride to the shelter.
2 p.m. update
Tropical Storm Elsa is nearing hurricane status again as it appraches Florida’s west coast.
Meteorologist Brian Shields said hurricane hunters found winds of 70 mph in the storm as of the 2 p.m. update. With strengthening possible, a hurricane warning has been issued for the west coast of Florida.
“I expect this to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall anywhere from about Anna Maria Island, north to Cedar Key,” Shields said.
1:55 p.m. update
A tornado watch was issued for Osceola and Polk counties as well as the Tampa area southward through 11 p.m.
1:40 p.m. update
The University of Florida announced that it will cancel classes on Wednesday due to Tropical Storm Elsa.
See a full list of schools here.
12:40 p.m. update
Some Lake County residents began to make preparations for Tropical Storm Elsa early Tuesday.
The county is offering sandbags at eight sites across the county.
To see the full list of sites, click here.
12:15 p.m. update
Central Florida school districts are monitoring Tropical Storm Elsa as it tracks along Florida’s west coast.
So far, a few local counties have announced that their school programs will be canceled in preparation of the storm.
See a full list of schools here.
11 a.m. update
Elsa is bringing tropical storm-force winds and heavy rainfall to the Florida Keys, the National Hurricane Center said.
Heavy rainfall and flash flooding is also continuing in west-central Cuba.
Elsa’s winds are currently near 60 mph, with higher gusts.
Weather officials still believe the storm could slowly strengthen through Tuesday night. It could be near hurricane strength before it makes landfall in Florida.
Meteorologists said tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the storm.
10:30 a.m. update
What’s the difference between a hurricane, a tropical storm, a subtropical storm and a tropical disturbance? Click here or scroll below to find out.
8:30 a.m. update
Gov. Ron DeSantis gave an update as the state prepares for Tropical Storm Elsa. The storm is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall in Florida.
Watch the governor’s update below:
DeSantis urged residents to prepare for the storm. He said Floridians shouldn’t focus on “the cone” because all areas of Florida can be impacted by the storm.
8:20 a.m. update
Gov. Ron DeSantis is giving a live update on Tropical Storm Elsa. Click here to watch live.
8 a.m. update
Elsa will continue to pass near the Florida Keys on Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said. It is forecast to make landfall along the north Florida Gulf coast on Wednesday.
The storm’s winds remain at 60 mph.
Weather officials said the storm is expected to slowly strengthen through Tuesday night.
Forecasters believe Elsa could be near hurricane strength before it makes landfall.
6:10 a.m. update
Meteorologist Brian Shields said all Central Florida counties have a severe risk and could get gusty winds from Tropical Storm Elsa.
“Even if you don’t have a warning now, and you see the center of this being west of us, we have a tropical storm that will move through and impact all our counties,” Shields said.
5 a.m. update
The National Hurricane Center said Elsa is nearing the Florida Keys.
A hurricane watch has been issued for portions of the west coast of Florida.
Forecasters said Elsa will pass near the Florida Keys Tuesday morning and move near or over portions of the west coast of Florida later Tuesday and continuing into Wednesday.
The storm’s winds remain near 60 mph. Weather officials believe Elsa could be near hurricane strengthen before it makes landfall in Florida. It is expected to weaken after it moves inland.
Central Floridians can expected an increased risk for isolated tornadoes and heavy rain.
2 a.m. update
Tropical Storm Elsa is moving over the Florida Straits and conditions are beginning to deteriorate across the Florida Keys, National Hurricane Center said.
The storm is continue to move north-northwest. It is expected to turn toward the north by Tuesday night and continuing to Wednesday.
Weather officials said satellite data NOAA Doppler weather radar in Key West showed that Elsa’s maximum sustained winds are near 60 mph.
Most of Florida’s west coast is under a tropical storm warning. There are tropical storm watches in effect in Marion, Lake and Sumter counties.
The National Hurricane Center said it believes the storm could strengthen through Tuesday night before it moves inland over Florida.
Watch “Calm Before the Storm,” Channel 9′s hurricane special, below:
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