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Hurricane Elsa's peak wind gust at SRQ airport: 54 mph

A frequently updated report on the progress of Elsa.

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  • | 9:20 a.m. July 7, 2021
Amy Baker, Lysette Daniels and Marisa Baker check out the beach erosion in the 3100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive in Longboat Key.
Amy Baker, Lysette Daniels and Marisa Baker check out the beach erosion in the 3100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive in Longboat Key.
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Tropical Storm Elsa is approaching Sarasota and Manatee counties today, with the weather expected to deteriorate throughout the afternoon and evening. The Observer will update news and information throughout the day and evening. 

9:15 a.m., Wednesday, July 7

Peak wind gust hit 54 mph at airport

As Hurricane Elsa passed offshore the Sarasota and Manatee county coast, a peak wind gust of 54 mph was recorded at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport in a squall. The highest sustained wind was recorded at 35 mph. Around town, automated rainfall measuring devices recorded about 2 inches in the last 24 hours. A site near Sarasota High measured 2.8 inches, 2.4 inches was recorded near  Arlington Park.

Sarasota Police remind drivers to be mindful of standing water on roadways and to remain alert for downed power lines or trees that might still topple. 

A few inches of water remains pooled at the corner of Broadway Street and Lois Avenue in Longbeach Village.
A few inches of water remains pooled at the corner of Broadway Street and Lois Avenue in Longbeach Village.

7:45 a.m., Wednesday, July 7

Longboat manager tours the island

Longboat Key Town Manager Tom Harmer tweeted this morning that he made a tour of the island and found little out of place: "Drove through the island this morning ⁦@TownofLBK⁩ Surf conditions still rough. Overall very fortunate- more intensive winds stayed offshore-all roads passable, no major damage reported, no major power outages. Some isolated street flooding in the low lying areas."

Amy Baker, Lysette Daniels and Marisa Baker check out the beach erosion in the 3100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive in Longboat Key.
Amy Baker, Lysette Daniels and Marisa Baker check out the beach erosion in the 3100 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive in Longboat Key.

8:15 p.m., Tuesday, July 6

Elsa regains hurricane strength

The National Hurricane Center has reclassified Elsa as a category 1 hurricane, upgrading the storm in its latest update base on data received from Tampa-area radar that indicated wind speeds reaching 75 mph. The hurricane force winds extend 20 miles from the center, with tropical storm winds extending out 90 miles. The storm was centered about 100 miles south-southwest from Tampa. The hurricane is moving north at about 14 mph, with further strengthening possible before a landfall early Wednesday near Cedar Key. Winds most recently at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport were sustained at around mph, with the highest gust of 40 mph at 8:13 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

While winds are now from the east, driving water away from the gulf beaches, the wind will shift to the south, then southwest and west overnight, raising the threat of beachfront storm surge and possible coastal flooding. 

8 p.m., Tuesday, July 6

Sarasota County expects to resume normal operations Wednesday

At a 7:30 p.m. press conference, Sarasota County Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane said the worst effects of Tropical Storm Elsa in the area are forecast to be over by sunrise Wednesday.

As a result, the county is set to resume most normal operations Wednesday. Administrative offices and libraries will reopen, and SCAT service will resume at 8 a.m. County summer camps are still canceled Wednesday, as are reservations made at county recreation facilities.

McCrane said the most intense portion of the storm is expected to hit Sarasota between 8 p.m. today and 2 a.m. Wednesday. He said the county had received no serious reports of damage as of Tuesday evening, but emergency personnel are prepared to respond to incidents as needed.

5:15 p.m., Tuesday, July 6

Manatee officials urge residents to finish preparations

Manatee County and Florida officials said residents should make their final preparations for Tropical Storm Elsa immediately at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

4 p.m., Tuesday, July 6

Parts of Tampa Bay now under a hurricane warning

Hurricane warnings are now in place from Egmont Key, at the mouth of Tampa Bay, north to Steinhatchee as Tropical Storm Elsa is forecast to cross the threshold of 74 mph maximum sustained winds before it makes landfall. Tropical storm warnings and other associated weather advisories remain in effect for the Sarasota-Manatee counties. 

3:45 p.m., Tuesday, July 6

Longboat Pass, New Pass bridges set in down position

On Tuesday afternoon, the town of Longboat Key announced the Longboat Pass (north end) and New Pass bridges (south end) will be locked in the down position as Tropical Storm Elsa approaches.

The reason is because of the tropical storm force winds.

To avoid damage, the bridges will not open for boat traffic as Elsa passes through.

Longboat Key does not anticipate any bridge closures for drivers on the road.

3 p.m.Tuesday, July 6

Lakewood Ranch's Main Street merchants urged to take storm seriously

Although Tropical Storm Elsa is not expected to reach hurricane status as it passes just off the region's coastline, Lakewood Ranch Commercial's Amanda Zipperer sent a note to Main Street at Lakewood Ranch businesses, advising them to make preparations for strong winds.

2:33 p.m., Tuesday, July 6

Airport will shut down at 6:30 p.m.

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport will close at 6:30 tonight after a flight arrives from Atlanta around 5:15 p.m. The airport posted this message: 

"Due to the latest forecast of TS Elsa, SRQ Airport will close at 6:30pm today after the last commercial arrival scheduled for 5:30pm. The airport expects to resume operations tomorrow at 6:00 am. Check your airline for flight status."

Following today's last flight, the next arrival still scheduled is at 10:10 a.m. Wednesday. An 8 a.m. departure on Wednesday is delayed until 9 a.m., and there are sporadic cancellations through the morning, though some flights are still scheduled. 

2:04 p.m., Tuesday, July 6

Tornado watch issued for Manatee and Sarasota

The National Weather Service this afternoon issued a tornado watch until 11 tonight for Manatee, Sarasota and eight other counties. 

12:25 p.m., Tuesday, July 6

Sarasota County administrator signs local state of emergency

A local state of emergency for  Sarasota County was signed on Tuesday by County Administrator Jonathan Lewis.

Among other updates from Sarasota County; 

Evacuation shelters: Based on reports from the National Weather Service regarding Elsa’s potential rainfall and wind impacts, the community is safe to shelter at home. No evacuation shelters will be opened at this time.

Public works: Moveable bridges operated by the Florida Department of Transportation and Sarasota County are being locked down by order of the United States Coast Guard.

Beaches: Lifeguard towers have been pulled back and there are no lifeguards on duty.

Trash collection: All trash, recycling, and yard waste collection services for residents in the unincorporated portions of Sarasota County is currently expected to resume Wednesday, July 7, but all schedules for the remainder of the week will be delayed by one day. Residents are reminded to not put out bins today due to the potential of high winds.

Parks: All reservations within Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources parks or facilities were cancelled for Tuesday, July 6. Payments made for reservations that have been cancelled will be applied to any balance due on the account. If the account does not have a balance due, a refund will be processed. For questions or concerns, call 941-861-7275 (PARK) or email [email protected].

Sarasota County Area Transit: Sarasota County Area Transit fixed route service, SCAT Plus, OnDemand by Sarasota County and the Siesta Breeze remain closed.

Sarasota County Fire Department: Residents of barrier island communities are being asked to leave their gates up or open so first responders have access.

Noon, Tuesday, July 6

Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce to close ahead of Elsa

The Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce is closing its office at 2 p.m. today ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa.

Chamber of Commerce President Gail Loefgren said in an email the office at 5390 Gulf of Mexico Drive Suite 102 would remain closed Wednesday.

The Chamber’s plan is to reopen the office at 9 a.m. Thursday.

10:45 a.m., Tuesday, July 6

Longboat Key issues Elsa advisory

The town of Longboat Key issued this advisory: 

Tropical storm force winds of 40 with gusts up to 60 will impact our coast beginning Tuesday afternoon at approximately 2 p.m. through Wednesday morning. 

Onshore winds may produce tides of 3-5 feet above normal during this period although should be offset due to timing of low tide.  High tide on Wednesday is at 1:30 am and 10:12 am with +2.4 foot tide. 

Rain impacts will begin Tuesday with estimates of 6-8 inches during the period Elsa moves past.  The ground is already saturated so the increased rainfall will enhance possibility of downed trees. 

Trash collection is cancelled for Tuesday,  No recycling collection until next Monday, July 12.

Localized flooding in low-lying areas can be expected Tuesday through Wednesday.

Tornado risk is elevated as the storm passes, so take protective actions if a tornado warning is issued.

Town facilities will be closed to the public on Tuesday.  We will have staff providing services by e-mail, phone, our website, or accessed on-line.

The town will continue to staff a sand & bag station at Broadway Beach Access today until 2:00 pm. 

High surf and beach erosion are expected, before and after, Elsa passes, as the storm progresses off our coast. Dangerous rip currents are a significant risk so beachgoers should avoid entering the water, swimming or surfing.

10:24 a.m. Tuesday, July 6

No sandbag operations today, Sarasota County says

After offering sandbags to residents Monday at Twin Lakes Park, Sarasota County announced it will not be providing sandbags today. 

Airlines cancel more than 30 SRQ flights

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport has no set plans to cease operations because of Tropical Storm Elsa, but most flights scheduled for the mid-to-late afternoon are already canceled, according to the SRQ website.

SRQ Executive Vice President Mark Stuckey said 31 flights have already been canceled this afternoon. All but three departing flights scheduled to leave Sarasota after 3:05 p.m. are listed as canceled on the airport’s website. The exceptions include a 4:57 p.m. flight to Atlanta, a 5:15 p.m. flight to Dallas-Fort Worth and a 7:30 p.m. flight to Charlotte.

Although the SRQ website said the airport is not expected to close, Stuckey said officials will evaluate their operational plans as they receive more information from the airlines. Once it’s clear when the final scheduled flight of the day is set to depart, Stuckey said the airport may decide to close its airfield. Stuckey said it’s possible the terminal may remain open for rental car operations.

10 a.m., Tuesday, July 6

No trash collection today in Manatee

Manatee County officials say there will be no trash collection in the county today. They urge resident to bring their trash containers indoors to keep them from blowing around. 

9:53 a.m., Tuesday, July 6

Longboat Key gears up for flooding

Areas of Longboat Key with a history of flooding should be implementing their safety protocols ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa,  Longboat Key Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said in a call this morning. 

“If your home or street floods, have a plan that you go to someone else’s house just to be safe,” Dezzi said. “Start working on your plan if you haven’t implemented it yet, because we will have flooding, we will have beach erosion.”

Dezzi said the rain and wind will pick up around 3 or 4 p.m. with more deterioration after 5 p.m., when sustained wind of about 60 mph are possible into the early morning. While the fire department will have a high water vehicle stationed at the north fire station, there’s no guarantee it will  be able to respond to calls. The fire department does not respond to call when winds are above 45 mph for the safety of personnel. 

"We want them to make sure that if they’re expected to get flooded in and they don’t want to stay, to leave now before the storm hits," public safety information officer Tina Adams said. "Get the house ready and have somewhere to go."

Longboat Key has four ways to communicate with citizens that will stay updated throughout the storm: the town website, Alert Longboat Key, the town Twitter account and the town Instagram account. 

Dezzi said the storm, which will be parallel to the coast, is expected to be mostly a water event with standing water on roads, two to four inches of rain and about three to five feet of storm surge. Because the Key is on the right side of the storm, there is more potential for tornadic activity. 

“This past week we’ve had nothing but rain, so our ground is really saturated so you have to be careful of downed power lines or trees falling,” Dezzi said. “The flooding issue in the (Longbeach) Village and those areas is something we want to watch for.”

The town is not conducting trash pickup today, so bring in cans before the wind begins. Boat owners who have their boats on lifts need to make sure to secure them and tie them up in case the storm surge gets high enough. To help with potential flooding, Longboat Key residents can get up to 10 sandbags at the town’s station at the Broadway beach access. There are no plans to shut off water to the island, but if St. Armands floods, the city of Sarasota may shut down the Ringling Bridge. 

For those who feel the need to evacuate the island, Dezzi said they should find a hotel, friend’s house or go to the Manatee County general population shelter at Manatee High School, as Sarasota County does not have any shelters open currently.

Town offices are closed today. The town will assess later on re-opening on Wednesday. 

8 a.m., Tuesday, July 6

Tropical storm warnings set for Sarasota and Manatee

The National Weather Service this morning set tropical storm warnings and storm surge warnings for the entire west coast of Florida, including Sarasota and Manatee counties. Steady rain and heavier storms and squalls are expected to overspread the area by afternoon lasting through the overnight. Calmer weather is expected on Wednesday. 

4 p.m. Monday, July 5

City declares state of emergency, cancels commission meeting

The city of Sarasota has declared a local state of emergency as part of its preparation efforts in response to Tropical Storm Elsa.

In a release, the city announced its offices will be closed Tuesday, and Tuesday’s City Commission meeting is canceled. Wednesday’s City Commission meeting is still set to proceed as scheduled.

The city also announced its recreational facilities will be closed Tuesday, and summer camps and other parks programming are on hold because of the storm. Trash pickup for Tuesday is canceled and rescheduled for Saturday.

Declaring a local state of emergency gives municipalities greater flexibility pertaining to spending and resource allocation during an event such as a storm, the city said in the release. City Manager Marlon Brown approved the declaration in consultation with Mayor Hagen Brody, City Attorney Robert Fournier and City Auditor and Clerk Shayla Griggs.

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency Saturday for areas in the storm’s projected path, including Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Florida’s west coast is forecast to feel the effects of Tropical Storm Elsa as soon as Tuesday. There is a tropical storm warning and storm surge watch in effect for Sarasota.

2 p.m. Monday, July 5

Sarasota cancels city trash collection

The city of Sarasota announced the cancellation of trash, recycling and yard waste collection scheduled for Tuesday, a precautionary measure in response to the potential effects of Tropical Storm Elsa.

The city rescheduled Tuesday’s pickups for Saturday; Monday’s collection went forward as scheduled. The announcement advised residents to follow the city’s website and social media accounts for updates.