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Tropical Storm Elsa makes landfall in Florida


Tropical Storm Elsa makes landfall in Florida
Tropical Storm Elsa has struck Florida. (National Hurricane Centre)

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Florida – Tropical Storm Elsa was making landfall in north Florida’s Gulf Coast late Wednesday morning, battering the area with heavy rain, knocking out power and threatening more wind damage and flooding as it moves inland.

Elsa’s centre, with sustained winds of 65 mph, was hitting Taylor County in Florida’s Big Bend region at around 11 a.m. ET, the National Hurricane Centre said.

Having already caused flooding in west-central Florida, Elsa is on a path to pound northern Florida and parts of Georgia into Thursday evening, then eventually the Carolinas and the mid-Atlantic coast.

A few dozen miles from landfall, part of the roof’s surface had been lifted from a motel on Florida’s Cedar Key, photos taken by motel guest Jonathan Riches showed.

“Winds starting howling in the middle of the night, and rain started pounding the windows,” Riches told CNN, adding about the conditions: “Never seen anything like this before in my life.”

High winds in already-saturated areas of northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina could topple trees and power lines.

“We’ve had a lot of rainfall this past month. If you get winds at 40 mph or 50 mph, some of these trees are going to be falling down,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said Wednesday morning.

“There’s a lot more damage still to be done.”

More than 20 000 utility customers in Florida were without power early Wednesday afternoon, according to utility tracker PowerOutage.us.

There was flooding on Wednesday morning in parts of southwestern Florida, where Elsa’s outer bands still were dropping rain. This included the Fort Myers area, where high water made some roads impassable, the National Weather Service said.

The system weakened to a tropical storm early Wednesday after becoming a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday. More than 5 million people are under a tropical storm warning across parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Elsa will have generally dropped three to nine inches of rain in western and northern Florida by storm’s end – though up to 12 inches had fallen north of Port Charlotte by Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service said. (CNN)