Elsa has officially regained hurricane status, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center‘s 8 p.m. update on Tuesday, July 6. The center stated that it would soon send reconnaissance aircraft into the storm.
Hurricane Elsa is currently about 100 miles SSW of Tampa, moving about 14 mph. The pressure had dropped slightly from the previous update to 996 mb. Residents should be braced for hurricane conditions, including high winds, heavy rains and storm surge, coupled with an expected high tide at 2 a.m. There will also likely be considerable flooding in low-lying areas of Pinellas County, and currently a tornado watch and flood watch are in place.
At this time, there is no mandatory evacuation. Pinellas County residents are encouraged to shelter in place and avoid roadways as storm force winds are imminent.
Beach Access Restricted
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday afternoon that it will limit access to only allow island residents, employees, and hotel guests to ensure safety. Restricted access to all barrier islands (including Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach) began at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 6 and will remain in effect through 7 a.m. Wednesday, July 7. Beach residents, employees, and hotel and vacation rental guests can return to the island.
The county has yet to issue a mandatory evacuation order, but urges residents to shelter in place. A 8 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center could change that.
Please remember that once sustained winds reach 40 mph, first responders cannot respond to any calls.
Find resources for city updates here:
Gulfport – A Gulfport Information Call Center is open for storm questions at 727-893-1000.
Pinellas County Resources
The county has opened two shelters for residents:
The Lealman Exchange shelter, at 5175 45th St. N in St. Petersburg, will open for the general population, those with special needs and persons with pets.
Ross Norton Recreation Center shelter, at 1426 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Clearwater, will open to the general population.
For residents with hurricane prep questions, the County Information Center is open at 727-464-4333. Residents who are deaf or hard of hearing can contact the CIC via online chat at bit.ly/PinellasChat.
The county advises all residents to have a plan in the event you need to shelter in place or evacuate. You can find your evacuation zone at pinellascounty.org/knowyourzone or call 727-453-3150 and enter your 10-digit home phone number.
Residents can also sign up for Alert Pinellas at pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas and review tips and planning tools in the 2020 All Hazard Guide online at pinellascounty.org/emergency, including shelter information, sandbag location and hurricane supply recommendations.
For those who require special needs shelter accommodations, you can call the County Information Center at 727-464-4333, even if you are transporting yourself to the shelter. Registration is required for those needing transportation assistance.