With so many of you sharing questions about Elsa, we hosted an Ask Me Anything chat Tuesday to provide some answers. The Weather Authority meteorologist Danielle Uliano fielded questions ranging from Elsa’s potential impact here in Northeast Florida to the likelihood of tornadoes spun off by the storm. Below you’ll find a Q&A recap of our conversation. Questions and responses were edited for clarity.
What will the impact from Elsa be like in Lake City near the I-75 corridor?
Lake City will definitely experience some heavy rainfall that could result in flooding and tropical storm-force winds or stronger, depending on whether Elsa gets upgraded.
What is the expected impact for Duval County?
Here in Duval, we can expect heavy rainfall starting Tuesday night through Wednesday, with flooding being a concern. We will also have the potential to see wind gusts at 45-plus miles per hour at times. With our already saturated grounds, it won’t take much to bring down trees.
What will the impact from Elsa be like in coastal Dixie County?
Coastal Dixie County is under a Tropical Storm Warning (as of early Tuesday) but that may be upgraded to a Hurricane Warning since the latest models show Elsa potentially strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane. I’d prepare for some storm surge along the coast, winds of 60-plus miles per hour and heavy rainfall.
How strong would winds have to be for bridges to close? How far in advance would we know?
Bridges aren’t typically closed without sustained winds of 40 miles per hour or higher. Here in Duval County, for instance, we’re only expecting 20- to 30-mph winds, so bridges are expected to remain open. As for the second part of your question, local leaders would let us know as soon as possible about potential closures, either via news conferences or their official social media channels.
What’s the likelihood of tornadoes stemming from Elsa?
With tropical systems, there is always a chance for tornadoes to develop. They usually happen in the top right quadrant or the right side of the storm. Given Elsa’s current path, Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia will be on that right side, so we will be on alert for that potential. This is why it’s important to have multiple ways to receive warnings. The Weather Authority app is a great resource for that.
What will the impact be like in Putnam County now that Elsa has strengthened a bit?
Putnam County will see some heavy rains with this storm, which could lead to flooding. If the storm does intensify, we can expect those winds to increase as well. As of early Tuesday, gusts reaching 45 miles per hour or higher are possible, but they could get to 50-60 mph, depending on Elsa’s strength after the storm makes landfall.
What are the chances of Elsa fizzling out? I live in a mobile home near I-75, so I’m concerned a little.
The chances of Elsa weakening significantly by the time it reaches I-75 are low. I would definitely have a plan in place in case you need to seek shelter. And, as Mark Collins pointed out, those of us who live in mobile homes — particularly those surrounded by trees — should consider finding a secure shelter.
In the event of an evacuation order, who determines the evacuation routes?
If you’re a Floridian, the Florida Division of Emergency Management has interactive maps which not only show your flood zone but also your evacuation route, if one exists. That information can be found on the agency’s website (FloridaDisaster.org), as well as inside this story. As for who issues evacuation orders, most frequently those come from local leaders.
Do you think Elsa will reach hurricane strength before making landfall?
There is a good chance it will upgrade to a low-end hurricane before landfall.