Tropical Storm Elsa expected to weaken as it heads towards the Carolinas — but rip currents, tornadoes, and flooding aren't off the table
Update: 8:45 am Wednesday
Elsa is still expected to weaken as it moves north — but is now expected to reach the Carolinas as a weak tropical storm, as opposed to a tropical depression.
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Pender, New Hanover, and Brunswick County, and the coastal marine waters from Surf City to Little River Inlet. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for coastal Georgetown and Horry counties and the coastal marine waters from Little River Inlet to the South Santee River.
Elsa's track is also now slightly west of the previous forecast, which may require future watches or warnings away from the coast for low-end tropical storm conditions.
The most likely time for tropical-storm-force winds to arrive would be very early Thursday morning for northeast South Carolina, and later Thursday morning for southeast North Carolina. Tropical storm conditions should diminish by Thursday evening.
1:15 pm Tuesday
As Tropical Storm Elsa moves north near the west coast of Florida over the next day or so, some strengthening is forecast. However, weather officials say storm weakening is forecast as Elsa moves through the southeast and towards the Carolinas late Wednesday into Thursday.
Despite the storm's anticipated weakening to a depression, risks and impacts for the coastal Carolinas aren't off the table. According to the Wilmington National Weather Service (NWS), heavy rain could produce isolated flash and urban flooding Wednesday night through Thursday evening.
Isolated tornadoes are also possible. Wind gusts of 35 to 45 mph could be seen late Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon, mainly near the coast and offshore.
And in addition, dangerous swells will result in a high rip current risk, especially at south-facing beaches on Thursday, and potentially into Friday.
No watches are warnings are currently in effect for southeastern North Carolina, but the NWS says that could change soon.
Any hazardous conditions should improve into Friday, as the system moves north.
This is a continuously evolving story, and as with all weather events, details could be subject to change. You can find the latest on Elsa from NWS here.