Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall in Cuba Monday and was expected to begin to make an impact on the Florida Keys Monday night and into Tuesday, forecasters said.
Elsa had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph as it moved northwest at 14 mph about 45 miles southeast of Havana, Cuba, and 130 miles south of Key West, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Elsa was moving over western Cuba with heavy rains, and was expected to pass near the lower Florida Keys on Tuesday, the NHC said.
Miami-Dade and Broward counties were out of the cone of concern for major impacts from Elsa, while a tropical storm warning remained in effect for the Florida Keys from Craig Key west to the Dry Tortugas, along with much of Florida's west coast from Flamingo to the Ochlockonee River.
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A tropical storm watch was in effect for west of the Ochlocknee River to Indian Pass. A storm surge watch was also in effect from west of the Aucilla River to the Ochlockonee River. A storm surge warning was in effect for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay.
"The landfall impact of this storm is likely to be north of Tampa Bay, and probably even north of Citrus County," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday. "Our plan is the same, we understand that this is just part of living in Florida."
Elsa prompted DeSantis to declare a state of emergency in several Florida counties including Miami-Dade, but he said Monday that he'd be signing a revised executive order that removes the county.
Both Monroe and Miami-Dade counties declared their own state of local emergencies due to the potential effects from Tropical Storm Elsa on Saturday.
"There still is a lot of uncertainty about the path, but we are continuing to monitor closely and if there are any potential impacts to Miami-Dade we are ready," Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during a weekend news conference.
Mandatory evacuations in Monroe County are not expected for this storm.
“The last thing we want is a lot of people leaving the Florida Keys on Monday at 11 a.m.,” Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi said. “We hope visitors will consider extending their stay through Wednesday, when we are expecting normal summertime conditions to resume, or to leave earlier on Monday to avoid traffic issues in the Upper Keys we normally see after busy holiday weekends.”
County officials say they are aware that while Miami-Dade and Broward counties may not be affected directly by Elsa, potential flooding could still be a concern.
"For many years, we've had a great relationship with them (South Florida Water Management) in making sure we don't have an abundance of water in these canal systems," Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz said Sunday. "We are able to make sure water is expedited in the fastest process when a storm is approaching."
Elsa swept over western Cuba with strong rain and winds Monday, moving over mainly rural areas to the east of Havana after making landfall near Cienega de Zapata, a natural park with few inhabitants.
Though Cuba's capital was expected to miss the brunt of the storm, many people in Havana were staying in place.
“For now, I staying at home. We have to wait for the night and see exactly what happens,” Aida Herrera, who lives next to the Malecon boulevard facing the sea, told The Associated Press.
Elsa had spent Sunday and much of Monday sweeping parallel to Cuba's southern coast before heading on to land, sparing most of the island from significant effects.
As a precaution, Cuban officials had evacuated 180,000 people against the possibility of heavy flooding from a storm that already battered several Caribbean islands, killing at least three people.
Elsa was a Category 1 hurricane until Saturday morning, causing widespread damage on several eastern Caribbean islands Friday as the first hurricane of the Atlantic season. The storm caused the deaths of one person on St. Lucia and of a 15-year-old boy and a 75-year-old woman in separate events in the Dominican Republic.
Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record and also broke the record as the tropic’s fastest-moving hurricane, clocking in at 31 mph Saturday morning, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.