Tropical Storm Elsa weakened slightly Sunday as it headed toward Cuba — but it was set to still begin hammering parts of Florida, including the area near last month’s deadly condo collapse, within the next day or two.
The storm system is expected to pass near Key West by late Monday or early Tuesday before hovering along Florida’s Gulf Coast for a day and then making landfall near Tampa.
The storm could bring sustained winds of 60 mph when it makes landfall in Florida late Tuesday or early Wednesday, experts said.
Elsa whipped Haiti and the Dominican Republic with heavy winds and rain Saturday, and several deaths were attributed to the raging storm. The storm created huge surges along the DR’s coast, according to video posted to Twitter.
Elsa has already affected search-and-rescue operations at the site of the Champlain Towers South Condo collapse in Surfside near Miami Beach, with workers now switching their efforts to preparing to demolish what’s left of the structure, in advance of the storm.
Elsa is expected to land farther west than the collapse site but could still nail the area with strong winds and rain.
Officials say they plan to demolish the standing remnants of the condo tower as soon as Sunday night before resuming the search effort.
“We have a building here in Surfside that is tottering,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “It is structurally unsound. And although the eye of the storm is not likely to pass over this direction, you could feel gusts in this area.”
The death toll from the collapse stands at 24, while more than 120 people still missing.
DeSantis has issued a state of emergency for 15 counties ahead of Elsa’s arrival, including Miami-Dade, the site of the building collapse.
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