Hurricane Elsa weakened on Wednesday morning to divert to a tropical storm, approaching the coast of Florida, but strong winds and heavy rainfall are expected, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Even if the strengthening of its intensity remains possible, most of the west coast of this American state is no longer in readiness for a hurricane, but in readiness for a tropical storm.
Only a small portion of the west coast of North Florida is still under hurricane warning.
“Storm Elsa will move near or above part of the west coast of Florida” on Wednesday morning and then hit the north coast of the Gulf of Florida before moving through the U.S. Southeast until Thursday, according to the NHC.
On Wednesday morning at 6:00 a.m., approximately “26,000 customers in Florida suffered a power outage,” Gov. Ron DeSantis told a news conference.
“Now is not the time for fun,” he told a news conference Tuesday night, urging residents to activate weather alerts on their phones. “The conditions outside are dangerous.”
On Wednesday at 5:00 (9:00 GMT) the storm was about 70 miles from Tampa, one of Florida’s largest cities. The winds it brings should not exceed 100 km / h, according to the NHC.
Tampa Airport suspended commercial flights Tuesday night until at least 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.
“We urge Florida residents to start preparations, and that includes the ability to run out of electricity for a few days and have enough food and water for each member of their family,” Jeanette Nuñez, Florida’s deputy governor, called on Tuesday.
“If you are asked to evacuate, go,” she added.
– Research still ongoing at Surfside –
After killing three people in the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia, Elsa hit Jamaica and Cuba on Monday, leaving behind heavy rains but without causing much damage to the island.
Elsa became the first hurricane in the Atlantic on Friday, ranked in the first category (out of five) on the Saffir-Simpson rankings, before being degraded into a tropical storm on Saturday and re-strengthened in a hurricane on Tuesday night.
In Surfside, a small town north of Miami, where a twelve-story building partially collapsed on June 24, the onset of the storm convinced authorities to speed up the destruction of the remaining part of the building, which is considered unstable.
The building was destroyed Sunday night, to continue the search without compromising the safety of rescuers.
At least 36 people were killed in the disaster, of which 29 were identified and 109 went missing.
Of the missing, authorities were able to confirm the presence of about 70 of them in the building the night it collapsed.
On Tuesday, the search continued despite rain and wind, 200 rescuers who searched the ruins were interrupted only by lightning that suspended work for an hour.