In its 5 p.m. update on Tuesday, July 6, the National Hurricane Center relayed the key message that storm surge could be “life-threatening” into the early hours on Wednesday. Coupled with an expected high tide at 2 a.m., those who live in coastal areas should consider evacuation. There will also likely be considerable flooding in low-lying areas of Pinellas County.
Tropical Storm Elsa has slowed to 10 mph and the pressure has dropped to 998 mb. The storm is nearing hurricane strength, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, with higher gusts, at the 5 p.m. update. A hurricane warning is in effect for the Tampa Bay area and the northern Gulf coast, and residents should expect hurricane conditions into the early hours Wednesday. The NHC predicts the storm will be a Category 1 hurricane before 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The NHC warns of high chances of rain and tornado warnings throughout other parts of South Florida.
At this time, Pinellas County residents are encouraged to seek shelter and avoid roadways as storm force winds are expected by Tuesday evening.
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
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.