Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall in Florida Wednesday, battering the state with wild winds and heavy rainfall — and leaving tens of thousands of people without power before it weakened and churned north, according to officials.
The storm slammed into Taylor County on Florida’s Gulf Coast about 11 a.m. with sustained winds of 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
By 2 p.m., the winds had eased to 50 mph as it passed through the Tallahassee area — but not before it knocked out power for some 26,000 customers, largely in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties, which surround Tampa Bay, according to clickorlando.com
Crews were working to restore power but no hospitals have reported an outage, which has been a major problem during past storms, Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
Heavy rain also bought some flooding to coastal counties, however, the Sunshine State was spared from the serious harm authorities had braced for.
DeSantis told a news conference Wednesday that no major structural damage or storm deaths had been reported.
“It’s definitely a lot better than expected considering it was supposed to be a hurricane that hit,” Melissa Roper, who lives in Steinhatchee, not far from where Elsa came ashore, told the Associated Press.
“We’re pretty fortunate.”
“I was honestly expecting a lot worse ’cause I saw like 65-mph winds and, I was like, ‘Oh Lord, I’m on the road with these winds,’” Eric Pagan, who lives in Orlando, told local NBC-affiliate WESH.
The weather system had briefly reached hurricane strength before it made landfall in western Florida on Wednesday morning — and is expected to swirl northeast to Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia before moving into the Atlantic Ocean by Friday, forecasters said.
With Post wires
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