Updated July 6 at 6 p.m. to reflect the latest information.
When Elsa hits, she’ll most likely hit as a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.
According to the 5 p.m. advisory, Elsa’s forward speed has slowed to turtle-like speeds (10 mph) but her winds have increased to 70 mph. Her pressure continues to drop, dipping below 1000 MB to 998 MB.
Gulfport and the Tampa Bay beaches are now officially under a hurricane warning.
Pinellas County has no public evacuation orders, but has partially activated the Emergency Operations Center. That means that, according Pinellas County representatives, “certain Pinellas County Emergency Operations team members/organizations are activated to monitor a credible threat, risk, or hazard and/or to support the response to a new and potentially evolving incident.”
In other words, Pinellas County has your back.
Please remember that once sustained winds reach 40 mph, first responders cannot respond to any calls.
On Tuesday afternoon, July 6, the National Hurricane Center announced that Tropical Storm Elsa is nearing hurricane strength, and issued a hurricane warning for the Tampa Bay area and the northern Gulf coast. The NHC predicts the storm will be a Category 1 hurricane before 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The NHC with high chances of rain and tornado warnings throughout other parts of South Florida.
“Tropical Storm #Elsa continues to produce heavy rainfall, primarily east of the center, over portions of Cuba and the Florida Keys. Flash flooding and mudslides remain an ongoing threat for these areas this morning,” the National Hurricane Center had posted on Twitter early Tuesday morning.
Pinellas County residents should finalize preparations, but are encouraged to avoid the roadways as storm force winds are expected early Tuesday afternoon.
Beach Access Restricted
To ensure safety, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has restricted access to all barrier islands (including Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach) until 7 a.m. Wednesday, July 7. Beach residents, employees, and hotel and vacation rental guests can return to the island.
Gulfport: Self-service sandbags are available until inclement weather begins on Tuesday, July 6 at the 49th Street Neighborhood Center, 1617 49th St. S.
“There is a 10-bag limit and proof of residency may be required,” said Justin Shea, Gulfport’s Cultural Facilities Events Supervisor.
A Gulfport Information Call Center will be open for storm preparedness questions at 727-893-1000.
“This is the same system we put in place for Hurricane Irma,” Shea said.
Visit mygulfport.us for more.
South Pasadena: A self-serve sandbag station behind the City Annex facility, 6940 Hibiscus Ave. S. will be open while supplies last. Residents are asked to limit themselves to 15 sandbags.
St. Petersburg: In addition to the year round self-serve sandbag site at 1744 9th Ave. N., which is open until 3 p.m., the City of St. Petersburg will offer sandbags at the following locations starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 6.
Northeast Park, 875 62nd Avenue NE . Located at the Cardinal Drive entrance to Mangrove Bay Golf Course)
James “JC” Turner Fields, 643 22nd Avenue S . Located on the south side of Bartlett Park, sandbags will be distributed in the parking lot of the fields.
Northwest Pool, 2331 60th Street N. Sandbags will be distributed in the pool parking lot.
Find more resources here.
St. Pete Beach: Sandbags are available in the parking lot between Public Works and Horan Park, 7581 Boca Ciega Dr.
If anyone needs additional bags or assistance, staff at the St. Pete Beach Community Center is available Tuesday, July 6 from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Madeira Beach: Self service sandbags will be available at the Madeira Beach Fire Station, 300 Municipal Dr. Sand is self-service from the east side of John’s Pass Park.
If your municipality does not have advertised plans at this time, Pinellas County resources are available.
Pinellas County Resources
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 by calling 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. Residents only need to register for special needs shelters once per season, so doing it now will help you for the rest of the year.