‘Keeping our fingers crossed.’ How Tropical Storm Elsa will impact the Charlotte area.

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Tropical Storm Elsa could still “pose a minor threat” to the Charlotte area, although most of the bad winds and rains are expected to veer more to the east and toward the coast, National Weather Service meteorologists said Tuesday.

“Limited heavy rain is possible across the southeast fringe of our forecast area, but the threat has actually dropped just a bit since the last update,” the NWS office in Greer, S.C., said on Twitter at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the (weather prediction) guidance will continue that way,” NWS meteorologist Mike Rehnberg told The Charlotte Observer at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Charlotte could see light rain from the outer bands of Elsa beginning a couple of hours after sunrise on Wednesday, Rehnberg said. “But the brunt of it will be Wednesday night into early Thursday,” he said.

Still, Elsa is expected to dump less than an inch of rain on the metro area, with most of the intense downpours forecast east of the Interstate 77 corridor, he said.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, tropical storm-force winds and heavy rains were battering the Florida Keys, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm was 65 miles northwest of Key West.

National Hurricane Center officials warned of a “danger of life-threatening storm surge” along Florida’s west coast into Wednesday, and possible tornadoes through Tuesday across the Florida Peninsula and, on Wednesday, across north Florida, southeast Georgia and South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

“The tornado threat should shift to the eastern Carolinas and far southeast Virginia on Thursday,” according to a hurricane center bulletin Tuesday morning.

The Charlotte area should be OK regarding the threat of tornadoes, according to Rehnberg. That’s because the greatest threat of tornadoes lies in the “front right quadrant” of storms. In Elsa’s case, that would be well to the east of the Charlotte region, he said.

A tropical storm watch was issued for the Georgia coast and parts of the S.C. coast, “where tropical storm conditions are possible late Wednesday and early Thursday,” according to the hurricane center.

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