Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) volunteers are preparing to act, if needed, as Tropical Storm Elsa approaches the Florida Keys. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Hurricane Watch for the west-central and Big Bend coasts of Florida, from Egmont Key to the Steinhatchee River, although Elsa has not regained hurricane status. The NWS has issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the Georgia coast and portions of the South Carolina coast from the mouth of St. Mary’s River to South Santee River, South Carolina. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center.
“ARRL Headquarters and the ARRL Emergency Management Department are monitoring the storm’s progress and will be ready to assist Sections affected by Elsa,” ARRL Emergency Management Director Paul Gilbert, KE5ZW, said.
As of 0900 UTC on Tuesday, Elsa was 270 miles south of Tampa, with maximum sustained winds of 60 MPH. The storm is moving north-northwest at 12 MPH. A storm surge warning is in effect for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay.
Life-threatening flooding is possible from rising water moving inland from the coastline during the next 36 hours. The NWS has advised those in the Storm Surge Warning area to “take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions. Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials.” The storm could generate considerable rainfall and may reach hurricane strength before it makes landfall somewhere north of Tampa on Wednesday.
The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) activated on June 2 after Elsa became a Category 1 storm. At that time, the storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 85 MPH. “The Hurricane Watch Net is keeping a close eye on Elsa,” HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said on Monday. “If this system intensifies into a Hurricane and be a threat to life and land, we will reactivate.”