Tropical Storm Elsa hits Florida

By Meg Wagner, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 10:14 PM ET, Wed July 7, 2021
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11:53 a.m. ET, July 7, 2021

Here's what it looked like as the storm approached Cedar Key

From CNN's David Williams

It was a night of heavy rains and high winds for people on the Florida coast as Tropical Storm Elsa approached the area. Johnathan Riches of Tampa shot these videos on Wednesday in Cedar Key, Florida, hours before the storm made landfall today.

Riches told CNN that the worst of the storm seemed to happen between 6 and 8:30 a.m. ET.

“Never seen anything like this before in my life. Winds starting howling in the middle of the night and rain starting pounding the windows. so I got out to film and document,” Riches told CNN.

He also posted photo of damage to the roof of the Beach Front Motel, where he is staying.

Here's what it looked like:

11:37 a.m. ET, July 7, 2021

Florida continues to monitor Elsa as it moves across the state, official says

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, left, speaks during a press conference in Surfside, Florida, on July 7.
Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, left, speaks during a press conference in Surfside, Florida, on July 7. (CNN)

Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez said Wednesday that Tropical Storm Elsa has made landfall in the big bend area of Florida’s western coast. 

Speaking at a press conference in Surfside, Nuñez said the storm is currently impacting Taylor County.  

“We are obviously continuing to monitor how this storm will track across northwest Florida, “ Nuñez Said.  

The National Weather Service said the storm's maximum sustained winds remain at 65 mph, with higher gusts. 

Nuñez said the storm will likely head into the Carolinas later today through Thursday.

11:33 a.m. ET, July 7, 2021

Jacksonville mayor warns residents to not get "overconfident" as Elsa approaches

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry CNN via Webex Cisco

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said there is the possibility of flooding and power outages as Tropical Storm Elsa moves north into Florida, especially since there's been "significant rain over the past week" in his area.

Even though it's "not a hurricane with a direct hit, we don't want people to get overconfident, be out in their cars and potentially driving into flooding. You can have downed power lines with wind. There's a whole lot of possibilities that can happen in these storms," Curry said to CNN's Boris Sanchez.

The mayor also said the tropical storm is a signal for residents to get ready now for hurricane season.

"This is an opportunity to remind ourselves early in the season that you need to know your evacuation zone. You need to have your hurricane kits, your storm kits prepared. If you don't have it ready ... if you don't know your zone, get ready," Curry said.

11:08 a.m. ET, July 7, 2021

Tropical Storm Elsa making landfall in Florida

From CNN's Dave Hennen

Tropical Storm Elsa is making landfall in Florida in Taylor County, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Maximum sustained winds remain at 65 mph, with higher gusts. The storm will now push inland and slowly weaken, but it is expected to remain a tropical storm as it moves up the eastern seaboard over the next several days. 

Heavy rains will continue to be the primary threat from the storm, but tropical storm-force winds, storm surge and isolated tornadoes will continue to be a threat, mainly east of the path of the storm.

11:08 a.m. ET, July 7, 2021

Trees fall into the road in Tampa as Elsa passes through

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Trees are down in some parts of Tampa, Florida as Tropical Storm Elsa makes landfall on the coast.

The city tweeted photos of debris on the road and on a car.

Officials are reminding people not to drive through moving or standing water and to treat out of order traffic signals as 4-way stops.

You can also report damage or fallen trees in your area by calling (813) 274-5744 or (813) 274-3101.

Read the tweet:

10:21 a.m. ET, July 7, 2021

Biden briefed on Tropical Storm Elsa this morning

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Joe Biden was briefed Wednesday morning on Tropical Storm Elsa, which is set to make landfall in Florida soon, an administration official tells CNN.

“The President received an updated report this morning that highlighted the potential impact of Tropical Storm Elsa in Florida and across parts of the eastern United States,” the official said.

Biden also spoke with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell Tuesday to hear about the agency’s storm preparations, the official noted.

Elsa is forecast to make landfall somewhere on Florida's West Coast this morning before traveling northeast ward across the state and into Georgia.

10:03 a.m. ET, July 7, 2021

Florida airports reopen after canceling flights due to Tropical Storm Elsa

From CNN's Alyssa Kraus

Tampa International Airport temporarily halting flights due to Tropical Storm Elsa.
Tampa International Airport temporarily halting flights due to Tropical Storm Elsa. (Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Tampa International Airport reopened this morning after temporarily halting flights due to the potential impacts of Tropical Storm Elsa on Tuesday. Tampa International Airport resumed operations at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Southwest Florida International Airport and Sarasota Bradenton International Airport have also reopened after closures yesterday.

However, all three airports warned of potential delays and cancellations as flights resume.

"TPA’s Operations team made the determination to open early after evaluating the airfield and airport facilities for storm damage from Elsa, which brought gusts of up to 41 miles per hour overnight," a statement from the airport read.

Tampa International Airport did not sustain any damage, according to the statement. Roadways are clear, and garages and the rental car center are open.

10:02 a.m. ET, July 7, 2021

After Elsa, 9 people are missing in the water miles off Florida's Key West

From CNN's Rebekah Riess, Jason Hanna and Alyssa Kraus

The Coast Guard published this picture of Tuesday's rescue efforts in waters miles off Key West.
The Coast Guard published this picture of Tuesday's rescue efforts in waters miles off Key West. (From US Coast Guard Southeast/Twitter)

Fifteen people were rescued in the water miles off Florida's Key West after Tropical Storm Elsa surged through the area, the Coast Guard said. Nine other people were believed to be missing in addition to the 15 who were rescued.

Authorities said they searched for the other nine people throughout the night.

A crew on a bulk carrier ship alerted the Coast Guard after finding people in the water 23 miles southwest of Key West. The ship's crew rescued two people, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard sent a ship to respond to the area, where the small boat crew rescued 13 more people from the water, the service said.

More details will be made available on the nine missing people in a press release soon, the service said.

8:50 a.m. ET, July 7, 2021

Tropical Storm Elsa will make landfall "in the next few hours," governor says

From CNN��s Gregory Lemos

 

Waves crash ashore in Cedar Key, Florida, on July 7.
Waves crash ashore in Cedar Key, Florida, on July 7. (Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that Tropical Storm Elsa “is now speeding up” and is expected to make landfall near the town of Steinhatchee in the northwest part of the state “in the next few hours.” 

DeSantis noted this part of the state has a relatively low population and has reported no fatalities from the storm so far. 

DeSantis said as of 8:00 a.m. ET, the storm is moving north at 14 mph and is 35 miles west of Cedar Key with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. 

“All things considered where we were 72 hours ago, I think the impacts have been less than what we thought would be reasonable,” DeSantis said noting the storm wobbled to the west before skirting the Tampa Bay area, which “potentially minimized impacts there.” 

The governor said tornadoes remain a possibility, particularly in the northwest portion of the state.