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The news story has been updated 7:30 a.m., July 7.
The Outer Banks are expected to feel the effects of Tropical Storm Elsa on Thursday as it moves through central and eastern North Carolina.
The National Weather Service Newport/Morehead City office today (Wednesday) reported tropical storm watches were expanded to include interior counties of eastern North Carolina. The region could expect on Thursday heavy rain, possible tornadoes and wind gusts in the 30-40 mph range.
Dangerous rip currents and high surf are expected to continue in the area after the storm passes.
The State Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh was activated Tuesday to monitor the storm. The State Emergency Response Team is preparing to support local governments with any storm-related needs.
“Small changes in the forecast track of a tropical system can mean big changes in storm impacts and rainfall amounts,” said state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “That’s why close attention to the forecast for your area is important.”
Around dawn on Tuesday, Elsa was approximately 90 miles west of Key West, Florida, with winds of 60 mph, down from its hurricane Category 1 status on July 2 when it had sustained winds near 85 mph. Winds may increase as it heads over water.
Its direction is north-northwest and will shift north by this evening making landfall along the north Florida Gulf Coast Wednesday morning.
As it passes over land on its way to North Carolina, the storm will be downgraded to a tropical depression.
Elsa is the first hurricane of what is expected to be a busy Atlantic Basin hurricane season.
Residents and visitors are urged to pay close attention to the forecast over the coming days, and to review their hurricane plans and supplies as the 2021 hurricane season begins.
For more information on the local forecast, visit http://www.weather.gov/mhx for general weather information, or the National Weather Service office in Newport/Morehead City’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NWSMoreheadCity/.