Tropical Storm Elsa, originally the first hurricane of the season before being downgraded, is reportedly weaker after passing the southeastern coast of Haiti on Saturday, July 3.
Even with lower wind speeds, southwest Florida and the Florida Keys are under tropical storm watch, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The latest National Hurricane Center update clocked Elsa in with maximum sustained winds near 60 mph, with some larger gusts recorded as the storm bumps into Haiti.
The storm is expected to blow into South Florida by late Monday or Tuesday, with an anticipated arrival in the Bay area Tuesday night.
Pinellas County residents are encouraged to finalize storm preparations, and get sandbags if necessary.
Get the latest storm updates at nhc.noaa.gov.
Gulfport: Self service sandbags will be available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, July 4 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.
According to the city, a Gulfport Information Call Center will be open for storm preparedness questions on Sunday, July 4. The number is 727-893-1000
“This is the same system we put in place for Hurricane Irma,” Shea said.
Visit mygulfport.us for more.
St. Petersburg: The City of St. Petersburg makes sandbags available when an official storm warning is issued for the area.
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 are available Saturday, July 3 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and Sunday, July 4 from 12-3 p.m. The Community Center will be open for assistance on Monday, July 5 from 12-3 p.m. and Tuesday, July 6 from 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
Madeira Beach: Sandbags will be self-service throughout the Fourth of July weekend. Bags 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.