Tropical Storm Elsa: Key West under warning; Ocean Reef under watch

Tropical Storm Elsa will move into the Florida Straits Monday evening, and it will pass near the Florida Keys early Tuesday. Residents of the lower and middle Florida Keys will feel sustained tropical storm winds, 40 mph or higher.

On Monday afternoon, in Monroe County, there was a tropical storm warning from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas and a tropical storm watch from east of Craig Key to Ocean Reef.

Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron said Monday afternoon residents need to make sure their boats are secure, store their patio furniture inside and buy supplies. Roman Gastesi, the Monroe County Administrator, said houseboat and trailer residents should evacuate and seek safer shelter.

“Just, you know, tighten things up, make sure you don’t [have] anything lose lying around … just batten down the hatches and get ready for it,” said Margarita Pedroza, who lives on a boat in Key West. “It doesn’t seem like it’s as strong as some of the other storms that have come around.”

A Tropical Storm Elsa squall passes over the Seven Mile Bridge Monday in the Florida Keys.

Gastesi estimates there were about 40,000 tourists Monday in Key West. Coldiron asked tourists to return to their hotel rooms or vacation rental homes when sunset comes. Gastesi wants tourists to avoid driving Monday evening.

“For them to all get into cars and take off at the same time, we don’t want them to be on the road when the heavy winds start,” Gastesi said.

On Sunday, Gov. Ron Desantis said sustained power outages are likely, so those with generators will need to make sure the exhaust is outside and not in an enclosed area.

“You can’t put it inside your house. You can’t put it inside your garage,” DeSantis said.

In the last four years, Florida has had more people die from carbon monoxide poisoning than from direct impacts from the storm, DeSantis said.

“Just be aware, prepare,” Gastesi said. “Take this as a little preparation. If you will, a little practice run.”

Max Tracker

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