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As Elsa's Eye Stays Off SWFL Coast, Meteorologists Warn to Stay Vigilant

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Florida Public Radio Emergency Network
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Florida Public Radio Emergency Network
Tropical Storm Warnings Extend to Inland Lee

As Tropical Storm Elsa skirts Southwest Florida the risk of flooding, tornadoes, and downed trees have not passed. WGCU's Julie Glenn talked with Florida Public Radio Emergency Network meteorologist, Megan Borowski, about why our area needs to remain vigilant through tomorrow. Here's that conversation:

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Florida Public Radio Emergency Network
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Meteorologist Megan Borowski

Julie Glenn:

Is there anything that Southwest Florida needs to be concerned about in the next 24 to 36 hours?

Meteorologist Megan Borowski:

So yeah, we're still concerned with heavy rainfall, tropical-storm-force wind gusts, and then also that potential for tornadoes. As of this afternoon, else's core is still just a little bit west of Key West, and it's moving slowly northward. We're still going to be near and east of the core of the storm. So we'll have those rain bands wrapping ashore, on and off torrential rainfall rates. So that's going to lead to several-inch accumulations of rain. Actually, locally, we can see six to eight inches that'll contribute to the threat for localized flooding. In addition, tropical storm-force wind gusts, especially right along the coastline. And that could down some trees with the heavy rainfall that we're getting as well. As these bands do wrap ashore, they do have a little bit of rotation, so can't rule out a couple of isolated tornadoes this evening in the southwest floor area.

Julie Glenn:

So people need to be alert and aware of tornado warnings and issues of that sort. All the way inland, like from the coast all the way in, correct?

Meteorologist Megan Borowski:

Yes. from the coast all the way inland, we have bands and in future track is predicting bands will extend all the way to the Atlantic coast and into the Atlantic Ocean. So even though you're not right along, you might not be right along the Gulf of Mexico, you still need to make sure you are on alert today. Because of course, those bands are wrapping inland. Yes.

Julie Glenn:

And the fact that it's moving slowly. Is that a cause for concern? Because from what I remember, in the past, slow-moving storms over warm water can intensify. Is there any possibility of that?

Meteorologist Megan Borowski:

Well, we are watching the center of the storm is forecasted to stay over the Gulf of Mexico over the Gulf loop current. So yeah, there is a little concern that that will help to give an uptick in thunderstorm activity around Elsa. So I wouldn't be surprised if we see sustained winds increase a little bit over the next 24 hours. I don't think or there aren't any signs that show it's going to be an extreme intensification. However, you know, the threats are still there of heavy rainfall. There's tropical-storm-force gusts and the tornadoes, you just want to make sure that you're aware that that risk is will stay in place for our area, at least over the next 12 to 24 hours.

Julie Glenn:

It seems like when there is a tornado warning issued, people's cell phones go off and it's pretty hard to miss it.

Meteorologist Megan Borowski:

Yes, and you just want to make sure you have a backup way to get alerts and make sure that you have not turned alerts off in your phone settings. That something if you can take about 20 seconds to go into your phone settings, make sure those emergency alerts are turned on for your area. And then also I just suggest remaining aware of the weather situation download the Florida storms app, you can have radar pinpoint your location, you can see what's going on. It's better to have too many alerts coming in or too many methods of getting alerts than having none at all,

Julie Glenn:

Especially with tornadoes, they're so quick and unpredictable.

Meteorologist Megan Borowski:

Yes, and also in the case of tropical cyclones, they spin up rather quickly. So they can take you by surprise. So we are on the east side of the storm. And that's the quadrant where we do look at that tornado risk. These bands are going to quickly wrap inland and we can get quick little spin-ups.

Julie Glenn:

The midday briefing It sounded like the storm surge situation is going to be to the north of Southwest Florida up in towards like the Tampa area.

Meteorologist Megan Borowski:

Right so and that's all based off of our location compared to the location of the core of the storm. So luckily we're going to have winds parallel to our shore. But farther north toward the Tampa Bay area, winds will be onshore so that's going to help to push water into the coastline and elevate that storm surge I think up in the Tampa Bay area. They're looking at about three to five feet of storm surge inundation,

Julie Glenn:

And that'll be corresponding with high tide.

Meteorologist Megan Borowski:

Yes, in that area. Yes,

Julie Glenn:

But it sounds like we're getting a little lucky that it may be coming ashore right in between the two high tides right around low.

Meteorologist Megan Borowski:

So for Cedar Key, that's where we're expecting it to come ashore Wednesday morning. And the good news is Yeah, high tide at Crystal River is 1 am It shouldn't come ashore until after that. Good news is low tide is about 630 so the tide will be receding so that should counteract those onshore winds in Crystal River. So yeah, a little silver lining there.

Julie Glenn:

Lucky I think for most and hopefully, it remains that way as this travels across the state. We're thinking it's going to go across, over to Jacksonville, and then up the coast.

Meteorologist Megan Borowski:

Yeah, you got it and you know it is we are breathing a little bit of a sigh of relief but at the same time, you know, don't let your guard down. Because this is going to be a Rainmaker and a good portion of Florida has gotten well over normal levels of rain, so the ground is already saturated. And then light wind gusts, tropical storm-force wind gusts as well, that could easily topple trees or powerlines. So yeah, we are gonna have some issues, but it's not as bad as it could be. I suppose

Julie Glenn:

You're right. Just remaining vigilant. Well, I mean, we're kind of used to that here in Florida. But yeah, that saturated ground and a little bit of wind and those trees go over like they're sitting on a coaster, you know, with the routes coming up and everything. Alright, well, thank you so much for talking with me. I appreciate it. I'll let you get back to the computer screen. I'm sure you’ve got a radar to check.

Meteorologist Megan Borowski:

Oh, I do. Thank you so much, Julie.