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What you need to know about Tropical Storm Elsa

Veronica Brezina

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Photo of Tropical Storm Elsa shortly after landfall on Cuba on July 5.

As Tropical Storm Elsa barrels toward the state, St. Petersburg residents should take proper precautions. 

Here’s what you should know: 

As of 5:30 p.m.: Elsa has strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane before it makes landfall. Elsa is now expected to make landfall between 8 and 9 a.m. Wednesday along Florida’s Nature Coast or in the Big Bend area, Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a 5:30 p.m. news conference.

As of 2:45 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a hurricane warning for West Florida, including St. Pete and Tampa. 

As of 10 a.m.: The storm is expected to strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall in Florida. Elsa, which momentarily reached hurricane strength Friday, made landfall in Cuba on Monday and is now in the Florida Straits. It’s expected to become a life-threatening storm surge for parts of Florida’s west coast tonight and Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Pinellas County is currently under a tropical storm warning, storm surge warning and flood watch. Residents may experience flooding in coastal and low-lying areas and loss of power due to downed trees and tree limbs today and Wednesday. Tornadoes and waterspouts also are possible. Elsa is forecasted to generate wind speeds expected to reach near 70 miles per hour. When and if Elsa reaches 70 mph, it is then designated as a hurricane. 

Sandbags: The City of St. Petersburg will offer sandbags at the following locations starting today:

  • Northeast Park, 875 62nd Ave. NE. (located at the Cardinal Drive entrance to Mangrove Bay Golf Course)
  • James “JC” Turner Fields, 643 22nd Ave. S. (located on the south side of Bartlett Park) sandbags will be distributed in the parking lot of the fields
  • Northwest Pool, 2331 60th St. N., sandbags will be distributed in the pool parking lot

The City of Pinellas Park also has self-service sandbag sites for residents only. Residents can get up to 10 sandbags each. Residents must show a water bill and/or valid driver’s license indicating they are a resident of Pinellas Park. 

  • Helen Howarth Park (Premade Sandbag Site) 6301 94th Ave N.  
  • Pinebrook Park (Self Service Sandbag Site) 7202 118th Ave N. 
  • Broderick Park: (Self Service Sandbag Site) 6101 66th Ave N.  

Shelters: Starting today, Pinellas County has opened the Lealman Exchange and Ross Norton Recreation Center shelters. 

Travel: The Sunshine Skyway Bridge will close when wind speeds reach 40 mph. Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will offer free rides to the two shelters starting today. Pets will be permitted on evacuation buses as long as they are in a pet carrier. As for the airport, Tampa International Airport said it will suspend commercial operations at 5 p.m. tonight.  

Additionally, the City of St. Pete has postponed the drone light show and the Rays have rescheduled its game today. 

Please check this page for continuous updates on the storm 

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