SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A weakened but resilient Tropical Storm Elsa
killed one person in Florida
and injured several others on Wednesday when a possible tornado
struck a campground at a Navy base in southeast Georgia
Elsa's winds have weakened to 40 mph as it approaches southern South Carolina
early Thursday, according to the National Hurricane Center
. Elsa will move over South Carolina and North Carolina
later in the day, pass near the eastern mid-Atlantic states by Thursday night, and move near or over the northeastern United States
While the system moves closer to the northeastern United States, some re-strengthening is possible Thursday night and Friday.
A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect north of Great Egg Inlet, New Jersey
, to Sandy Hook
, New Jersey, and for the coast of Long Island
from East Rockaway Inlet to the eastern tip along the south shore and from Port Jefferson Harbor eastward on the north shore, as well as from New Haven, Connecticut
, to Merrimack River, Massachusetts
, including Cape Cod
, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Martha's Vineyard.
Elsa appeared to spare Florida from significant damage, though it still threatened flooding and tornado warnings, and the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina were under tropical storm warnings. Forecasters predicted Elsa would remain a tropical storm into Friday, and issued a tropical storm watch
from North Carolina to Massachusetts.
According to Capt. Eric Prosswimmer of the Jacksonville Fire Rescue
Department, a tree fell and struck two cars in Jacksonville, Florida, on Wednesday. The National Weather Service
reported 50 mph (80 kph) wind gusts in the city.
“Now is a time to remember... that weather is unpredictable,” Jacksonville Mayor
Lenny Curry said at a news conference
Wednesday evening, urging drivers to avoid the roads. “This is really early in the (hurricane) season. We’re just outside of the July 4th holiday
, we’ve had our first storm, and, unfortunately, we’ve had a fatality.”
A possible tornado struck a recreational vehicle park at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in nearby Camden County, Georgia, injuring about 10 people
and transporting them to hospitals by ambulance, according to base spokesman Scott Bassett, though the extent of their injuries was not immediately clear. He also said some buildings on the base appeared to have been damaged.
Sergio Rodriguez, who lives near the RV park, said he rushed to the scene, fearing for the safety of friends
staying at the park, as the area was under a tornado watch Wednesday evening.
“There were just RVs flipped over on their sides, pickup trucks flipped over, a couple of trailers
had been shifted, and a couple of trailers were in the water
” of the site’s pond, Rodriguez said over the phone.
He said ambulances arrived and began treating dazed people who were trying to figure out what had happened, based on cellphone video
he shot at the scene.
“A lot of people had lacerations and were just banged around,” Rodriguez said, adding that the majority of people were in their trailers at the time.
The hurricane center predicted that parts of Florida could receive up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of total rain
from the storm, and that flooding was possible in Georgia and South Carolina, which were expected to receive 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of rain. A couple of tornadoes are also possible Thursday morning from southeastern Georgia into South Carolina's coastal plain.
According to the website poweroutages.us, approximately 35,000 homes and businesses on either side of the Georgia-Florida state line were without power Wednesday evening.
Despite the fact that the storm hampered the search for potential survivors and victims of the June 24 collapse
of a Miami-area condominium, crews continued their search in the rubble of Champlain Towers South
, Florida, on the state's southeast coast.
The storm also temporarily halted demolition
on the remaining portion of an overturned cargo ship off the coast of Georgia on Wednesday. The South Korean freighter Golden Ray capsized in September 2019 off St. Simons Island, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Savannah, and crews have removed more than half the ship since November.
According to Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes, a spokesperson for the multiagency command in charge of the demolition, the majority of salvage workers were sheltering indoors on Wednesday.
Crews will be watching to see if Elsa's winds scatter any debris from the ship into the surrounding water, according to Himes, who said the ship's remains are open at both ends, like a giant tube on its side, and its cargo decks still contain hundreds of bashed and mangled cars.
New Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued for North Carolina and the Mid-Atlantic. https://t.co/905zOAYiId
pic.twitter.com/APyDftSmow — National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) July 8, 2021
Wednesday dawned muggy and overcast in Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
Mayor Jane Darby described the day as “the kind of day where you can just feel the weather wanting to move in.”
The forecast for the barrier island 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Charleston was similar to a heavy summer thunderstorm – an inch or two (2.5 to 5 centimeters) of rain, winds gusting up to about 40 mph (64 kph), and possibly some beach erosion
. Other South Carolina beaches expected similar conditions, mostly overnight to be less of a bother to visitors during an extremely busy season.
“Businesses are dealing with workers in short supply far more than they are dealing with this storm,” Darby said, “and that is where the stress is right now.”
Meanwhile, the US Coast Guard
reported that 13 people were rescued from a boat
that left Cuba
with 22 people aboard late Monday, with nine people still missing. Elsa was also blamed for three deaths in the Caribbean
before arriving in Florida.
According to Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University
of Miami, Elsa is the first fifth-named storm on record.
Jeff Martin in Marietta, Georgia; Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina; Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale
, Florida; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida contributed to this report, which Anderson wrote from St. Petersburg, Florida.