On Wednesday, a suspected tornado hit a campsite at a Navy station in southeast Georgia, killing at least one person and injuring many others as a weakened but tenacious Tropical Storm Elsa approached Florida.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Elsa’s winds had decreased to 40 mph (65 kph) when it approached southern South Carolina early Thursday. Later in the day, Elsa will travel over South Carolina and North Carolina, pass close to the eastern mid-Atlantic states by Thursday night, then pass close to or over the northeastern United States on Friday.
While the system approaches near to the northeastern United States, some re-strengthening is likely on Thursday night and Friday.
A Tropical Storm Warning is now in effect 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, 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. From New Haven, Connecticut, to Merrimack River, Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, a warning is in force.
Elsa seemed to have spared Florida from major damage, but it still threatened floods and prompted numerous tornado warnings. A tropical storm warning was issued for the coastlines of Georgia and South Carolina. Elsa was expected to remain a tropical storm through Friday, prompting forecasters to issue a tropical storm warning from North Carolina to Massachusetts.
According to authorities, one person was killed Wednesday in Jacksonville, Florida, when a tree fell and hit two vehicles. Wind gusts of 50 mph (80 kph) were recorded in the city by the National Weather Service. According to Capt. Eric Prosswimmer of the Jacksonville Fire-Rescue Department, the tree fell amid heavy rains, and no one was hurt.
“Now is the moment to remember that weather is unpredictable,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said during a press conference Wednesday evening, urging drivers to avoid the roads. “It’s still early in the (hurricane) season.” We’re just through the July 4th holiday, we’ve had our first storm, and we’ve had a death.”
A suspected tornado hit a campground for recreational vehicles at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in neighboring Camden County, Georgia. According to base spokesperson Scott Bassett, around ten individuals were wounded and transported to hospitals by ambulance. At the time, it was unknown how severe their injuries were. He also said that several structures on the base seemed to have been damaged.
Sergio Rodriguez, who lives near the RV park, said he rushed to the scene because he was concerned that friends staying at the site might be injured. On Wednesday evening, the region was under a tornado watch.
“There were simply RVs turned over on their sides, pickup trucks flipped over, several trailers had been moved, and a few of trailers were in the water” of a nearby pond, Rodriguez said over the phone.
He captured cell phone footage of the incident, which showed trees bowed low amid strewn debris. Ambulances, he claimed, came and started treating disoriented individuals who were trying to figure out what had occurred.
“A lot of people suffered lacerations and were basically beaten about,” Rodriguez said. “The vast majority of people were in their trailers at the time.”
According to the hurricane center, areas of Florida may get up to 8 inches (20 cm) of rain from the storm. Flooding was also a possibility in Georgia and South Carolina, which were expected to get 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 cm) of rain. Tornadoes are probable from southern Georgia through South Carolina’s coastal plain on Thursday morning.
On Wednesday evening, scattered power outages were recorded throughout Elsa’s route, with about 35,000 homes and businesses on each side of the Georgia-Florida state border without power, according to the website poweroutages.us.
The storm hampered the search for possible survivors and fatalities of the June 24 collapse of a Miami-area condominium. Regardless, workers continued to search in the wreckage of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, on the state’s southeast coast.
On Wednesday, the storm also briefly stopped demolition on the remains of an overturned cargo ship off the coast of Georgia. In September 2019, the South Korean ship Golden Ray capsized near St. Simons Island, approximately 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Savannah. Since November, crews have removed more than half of the ship.
According to Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes, a spokesman for the multiagency command supervising the demolition, most salvage personnel were sheltering inside on Wednesday.
According to Himes, Crews will monitor whether Elsa’s winds throw any debris from the ship into the surrounding sea. The ship's wreckage is open at both ends, like a huge tube on its side, and its cargo decks still hold hundreds of smashed and twisted vehicles.
Wednesday began humid and cloudy at Edisto Beach, South Carolina. “It’s the sort of day when you can just feel the weather trying to move in,” said Mayor Jane Darby.
The prediction for the barrier island 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Charleston was comparable to a strong summer thunderstorm: an inch or two (2.5 to 5 cm) of rain, gusts blowing up to 40 mph (64 kph), and perhaps some beach erosion. Other South Carolina beaches anticipated similar circumstances, which will arrive mainly overnight to cause minimal disruption to tourists during a hectic summer.
“Businesses are going to be worried by this storm a lot more than they are by employees in limited supply, that’s where the pressure is right now,” Darby said.
Meanwhile, the US Coast Guard said that 13 individuals were recovered from a boat that departed Cuba late Monday with 22 people on board. Nine individuals were unaccounted for. Elsa was also held responsible for three fatalities in the Caribbean before arriving in Florida.
According to Brian McNoldy, a hurricane specialist at the University of Miami, Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record.
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