Live updates: 1 dead as Tropical Storm Elsa moves into South Carolina

·6 min read
tropical storm elsa makes landfall in florida
Tropical Storm Elsa making landfall in Taylor County, Florida. Mark Wallheiser/Getty

As of 5 a.m. ET Thursday, Tropical Storm Elsa was near South Carolina's border with Georgia. It is weakening as it moves inland.

Visualization of Tropical Storm Elsa on July 8, 2021
A visualization of Tropical Storm Elsa as seen at 5:17 a.m. ET on July 8, 2021. The colors represent brightness temperature, a measure of atmospheric intensity. Tropical Tidbits

As of 5 a.m. ET Thursday, Tropical Storm Elsa was near Blackville, South Carolina, a town near the state's border with Georgia, the National Hurricane Center said.

It was also weakening as it moves inland, currently carrying maximum sustained winds of about 40 mph, the NHC said. Before it made landfall, the storm was carrying winds of 65 mph.

Elsa is forecasted to move over South Carolina and North Carolina on Thursday, pass near eastern mid-Atlantic states by Thursday night, and move near or over the northeastern US on Friday and Friday night before crossing over to Canada, the NHC said.

As of 5 a.m. the storm was moving northeastward at a speed of about 18 mph, the NHC said, though it expects the speed to increase in the coming days.

The storm made landfall in Taylor County, along Florida's northern Gulf Coast, around 11 a.m. ET Wednesday.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for large parts of the US East Coast, including the area from Little River Inlet, South Carolina, to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and the area from New Haven, Connecticut, to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts.

That area includes the popular holiday destinations of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket.

Elsa is also expected to bring heavy winds and rain, including up to 8 inches of rain across parts of South Carolina on Thursday.

The NHC also warned that "a few tornadoes are possible" across the eastern Carolinas and southeast Virginia through Thursday afternoon.

The storm has killed one person in Florida and injured ten in Georgia.

One person was killed in Jacksonville, Florida, on Wednesday when a tree fell during heavy rains and struck two cars, the Associated Press reported, citing authorities. No one else was injured.

Also on Wednesday, about ten people were injured and hospitalized after an apparent tornado hit an RV park at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Camden County, Georgia, on Wednesday, the base said in a statement.

The extent of their injuries was not clear.

The video below shows the damage done to vehicles at the base:

Elsa had killed three people in the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia earlier this week.

The National Hurricane Center warned that a combination of storm surge and high tide could cause normally dry areas near the coast to see flooding.

tropical storm elsa florida
A truck drives through Steinhatchee, Florida avenue after Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall nearby on July 7, 2021. Mark Wallheiser/Getty

The water could reach heights of up to 4 feet between Longboat Key to Suwannee River, Florida, including Tampa Bay. Parts of Georgia could see up to 2 feet of flooding.

A storm surge warning remains in effect for the west coast of Florida, from the Suwannee River to the Aucilla River.

The NHC also reported that a few tornadoes are possible across northern Florida and southeastern Georgia into eastern South Carolina through Wednesday night.

Video from Tampa early on Wednesday showed dead fish and other debris washed up on a sidewalk after heavy rains on Tuesday night.

Source: Tampa Bay Times photographer Luis Santana

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency for nearly 100 counties ahead of Elsa's landfall.

Brian Kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp (R-Georgia). AP Photo/John Bazemore

Kemp issued a state of emergency for 92 counties in middle, south, and southeast Georgia on Tuesday night in preparation for Tropical Storm Elsa's anticipated Wednesday morning landfall.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also warned residents to prepare for the impending storm and its aftermath.

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

DeSantis and state lieutenant governor Jeanette Nuñez issued warnings to Florida residents on Tuesday.

"We ask Floridians to please begin their preparations that include to potentially be prepared to potentially be without power for a few days," Nuñez said at a press conference.

Nearly 15,000 Florida residents in Taylor County and the six surrounding counties were without power as of Wednesday afternoon.

Both Nuñez and DeSantis urged Floridians throughout the state to take precautions.

"Be prepared to be without power for a few days and having enough food and water for each person in their family, including for your pets," DeSantis said, according to CBS Miami.

On Monday, DeSantis reminded residents that if they plan to use a backup generator in case of a power outage, they must safely vent exhaust fumes outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Elsa killed at least three people in the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia.

Tropical Storm Elsa
Cloudy skies hang over Havana, Cuba, after Tropical Storm Elsa passed the Caribbean island. AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

The tropical storm hit Cuba and other Caribbean islands over the weekend and on Monday.

Weather from Elsa's approach scuttled search-and-rescue efforts at the collapsed Champlain Towers South condominium near Miami.

Rescue teams work at the site of the collapsed Champlain Tower South condo in Surfside, Florida. Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Workers recovered 10 additional bodies from the rubble of the collapsed Florida condo tower, bringing the total number of known deaths to 46 as of Wednesday. About 109 people are still missing.

Although currently a tropical storm (meaning its sustained wind speeds are slower than 74 mph), Elsa was briefly classified as a Category 1 hurricane.

Pedestrians in Florida before Storm Elsa arrives
Two people on Dodecanese Boulevard at the Tarpon Springs, Florida, on July 6, 2021, as the state prepares for Storm Elsa to make landfall. Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP

Forecasters classified Elsa as a Category 1 hurricane on Friday, then it weaken to be a tropical storm on Saturday. It then regained hurricane status on Tuesday, then weakened once more, becoming a tropical storm around 2 a.m. local time Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Elsa is the fifth named storm of 2021. It's the earliest in the season that the fifth name storm has ever formed.

A satellite image of Hurricane Elsa
Hurricane Elsa churns in the Caribbean Sea. NOAA

Hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic are getting stronger, on average, as the climate crisis causes ocean and air temperatures to climb. The chances of a tropical storm becoming a major hurricane have increased by 8% every decade for the past 40 years.

The 2020 hurricane season shattered records with a total of 30 named storms. That year tied 2016 as the hottest ever on record.

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