The center of Elsa, with winds of up to 65 mph, was 50 miles southwest of Cedar Kee on the northwest coast of Florida, until 5 p.m.
Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center, told CNN that it was moving northward into the Big Bend area, which is expected to cause a landslide Wednesday morning.
In addition to heavy rain and flooding, Elsa threatens strong winds that could topple trees and power lines in an already saturated region.
“The problem is (even after the landslide) that it will be blowing at 40 mph towards communities in northern Florida and southern Georgia,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said Wednesday morning.
“It rained a lot for us last month. If you get winds of 40 mph or 50 mph, some of these trees will fall down,” Myers said.
The hurricane is expected to make landfall Wednesday morning in southwestern Taylor County in the Big Bend region of Florida, about 60 miles north of Sasahovitska (about 60 miles north of Tampa) off the west coast of Florida.
The system weakened to a tropical storm early Wednesday morning after it turned into a Type 1 hurricane on Tuesday. More than 13 million people in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are under tropical storm warning.
As local, state and utility resources continue to prepare for the coming storm, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis on Tuesday expanded his emergency declaration to cover 33 districts.
The Florida National Guard has deployed 60 guards and is ready to carry out storm-related activities such as high water rescue or humanitarian aid.
Districts and utilities prepare before the storm
In the wake of the storm, Tampa officials on Tuesday encouraged residents to stay home and get ready.
“We want everyone to be safe in Tampa. We’ll be watching the storm all night, so you don’t have to,” he added.
Tampa’s emergency coordinator previously said it was time for residents to come to safety.
“Now is the time to get home, get off the streets and be safe tonight,” John Antapasis said. “You have to make and finalize your hurricane plans, while at the same time making sure you are in a safe place … Elsa is making its way across the community.”
Those who need to be on the roads should check the flood map of the city, Antapasis advised.
“Please finalize your plans, secure your homes, deploy the bunker and get ready to evacuate this storm,” Mandy County executive Scott Hobbs told a news conference Tuesday.
Shelters were opened in at least five districts on Tuesday, and two more districts issued voluntary eviction orders.
Additional tax workers and support staff were brought in from Carolinas, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, the report said.
Elsa to go to Georgia and South Carolina
Prior to the Elsa landslide in Florida, tropical storm warnings were issued for parts of Georgia and South Carolina, and tropical storm monitoring was issued for parts of North Carolina and Virginia.
After landing in Florida, Elsa’s center is expected to move to Georgia on Wednesday and South Carolina by Thursday, and then eventually move to the Atlantic coast.
The hurricane center said about 2 to 6 inches of rain is expected in the low-lying areas of southeastern Georgia and South Carolina.
The Hurricane Center forecast about 1 to 5 inches of rain along the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia until Thursday night.
Georgian government Brian Kemp on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in 91 of his state’s 159 districts in preparation for Elsa.
“The storm system has the potential to have devastating impacts on citizens throughout the central, southern and coastal areas of the state of Georgia, and the network of roads in Georgia may be impossible due to fallen trees, power lines and debris. Access to affected public services , “Kemp said.
CNN’s Michael Guy, Rebecca Rice, Sarah Weissfeld, Dave Alzup, Devon Sawyers, Tina Burnside and Kamil First contributed to the report.