Tropical Storm Elsa shifts west

Finish storm prep before sunset

The screen capture of doppler radar at 10 a.m. on July 5 features the first weather associated with Tropical Storm Elsa on its way to the Florida Keys. CONTRIBUTED

While the tropical storm warning remains in effect from Craig Key, southwest to Key West, the National Weather Service continues to advise local officials that the real dangers will not be sustained winds, but sudden gusts of “squally” weather that come in the form of rainbands. 

“We are expecting frequent, fast moving squalls,” rather than sustained 40 to 50 mph winds,” said John Rizzo, the National Weather Service’s warning coordination meteorologist. 

Tropical Storm Elsa’s track continues to shift west, and is set to travel closer to the Marquesas than Key West. As the track shifts, the storm’s arrival in the Keys is further delayed. Monroe County officials are telling residents to have all preparations in place by sunset today, July 5. Visitors who choose to leave the Keys today should do so well before sunset, too. 

“When the sun goes down, that’s a good time to be indoors, especially for the marine community,” said Rizzo. “In fact, nobody should set out after dark. Plan to stay in.”

The worst weather — likely affecting Key West and the Lower Keys most — will begin closer to midnight. The worst weather will be on the east side of the storm. 

Local municipalities have closed beaches and parks. The Florida State Park system has also closed parks and the parks will not reopen until the storm passes. Local bus routes are stopping at noon, or have already stopped. Key West trash pick up set for Tuesday and Wednesday will be delayed to Wednesday and Thursday. Key West City Hall will be closed on Tuesday, July 6. Monroe County and the Monroe County School District have yet to announce any closure to facilities or offices. 

At 8 a.m.,Tropical Storm Elsa was located 230 miles south of Marathon. It has winds of 65 mph and a forward speed of 14 mph. Tropical storm force winds extend 70 miles from the center. 

There are no changes to the forecast rainfall and coastal flooding which is expected to be minimal. The possibility of tornadoes persists. 

Monroe County has no plans to open general population shelters in Monroe County. Vulnerable residents and visitors — in mobile homes, RVs, low-lying areas and liveaboards — have been advised to leave or shelter in place in a safe structure.

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Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.