VERO BEACH, Fla. – A hurricane watch was issued for parts of Florida's West Coast on Tuesday as Tropical Storm Elsa rolled off Cuba and into the warm waters of the Straits of Florida, where the storm could regain hurricane strength before making landfall on the Sunshine State.
The storm was centered about 55 miles west of Key West at 8 a.m. EDT Tuesday, driving sustained winds of 60 mph, the National Weather Service said in an advisory. The Key West International Airport measured a wind gust of 48 mph.
The storm was moving north-northwest at 12 mph, much slower than its record-setting pace of more than 30 mph last week.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from its center. Strong wind gusts and heavy rains were sweeping across parts of southern Florida on Tuesday morning. "Life-threatening" storm surges, flooding and isolated tornadoes also were possible, the advisory warned.
AccuWeather forecast Elsa to make landfall north of Tampa on Wednesday morning. Up to 8 inches of rain is possible across the Keys and into southwest and western portions of the Florida Peninsula, with isolated pockets possibly seeing 15 inches, AccuWeather said.