KEY POINTS

  • Tropical Storm Elsa has been upgraded into a hurricane
  • Sustained winds climbed to 75 mph on Tuesday
  • A hurricane warning is in effect for Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River
  • Heavy rain forced rescue teams at the collapsed Surfside condo to pause for two hours

Tropical Storm Elsa has regained hurricane strength and is expected to make landfall early Wednesday across the west coast of Florida.

According to The Weather Channel, Elsa’s center is located more than 100 miles south-southwest of Tampa. It is expected to bring high winds, isolated tornadoes, storm surges, and flooding rain.

With sustained winds climbing to 75 mph Tuesday, Elsa has regained hurricane status for the second time, triggering hurricane warnings from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

In its latest update on Elsa, the NHC said it has sent out a “reconnaissance aircraft en route to investigate the hurricane.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the agency also warned of heavy rainfall “northward across west-central Florida through this evening.” The warning was made shortly after Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters determined that Elsa’s maximum sustained winds neared 70 mph.

As part of the efforts to prepare for Hurricane Elsa’s arrival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency and warned residents that power may be off for a couple of days, Forbes reported.

While DeSantis has expanded Florida’s state of emergency to cover 33 counties, neighbor Georgia issued a state of emergency for 92 counties.

Hurricane Elsa passed through the Caribbean, exiting Cuba late Monday before moving toward Florida.

The following warnings are in place:

  • Hurricane Warning: Egmont Key to Florida’s Steinhatchee River
  • Tropical Storm Warning: West coast of Florida, coast of Georgia including Altamaha Sound and the Mouth of St. Marys River, Dry Tortugas
  • Tropical Storm Watch: South Carolina, South Santee River, North of Altamaha Sound, Georgia
  • Storm Surge Warning: Florida west coast including Tampa Bay

According to NBC affiliate WESH (Channel 2), the latest forecasts indicate that Elsa will likely make landfall around the north Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday after it moves toward the west coast throughout Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, search and rescue teams working on the remnants of the demolished Champlain Towers South building had to stop working for two hours early Tuesday due to lightning and some rain brought by Elsa.

The condo building collapsed on June 24 and rescue work has been continuing since the incident. So far, at least 36 people have been confirmed dead. But officials had to stop search operations as rain soaked the rubble, the Associated Press reported.