Elsa gets downgraded but still hits Northeast with rains and wind

Alachua County being affected by Tropical Storm Elsa, Photo Date: Jul 7, 2021
By Madeline Holcombe and Jay Croft, CNN

    (CNN) -- Elsa has been downgraded from a tropical storm to a post-tropical cyclone, after its rains and winds hit major cities in the Northeast on Friday.

A tropical storm warning has been discontinued for Long Island and the coast of New England west of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, the National Hurricane Center said in its 2 p.m. ET update. It remains in effect for parts of Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, near Boston.

Elsa brought heavy rain, gusty winds and a tornado threat to the region.

The center of the storm had been over Long Island earlier and moving northeast, the center said. Forecasters expect it to move offshore by Friday evening.


Heavy rainfall in these areas could lead to considerable flash and urban flooding. Flash flood watches had been posted for about 20 million people earlier.

Sustained winds remain as high as 50 mph with higher gusts, the hurricane center said. "Gradual weakening is forecast to occur over the weekend," the advisory reads.

Elsa previously caused tornadoes and injuries in the Southeast and at least one death in Florida this week.

Like a 'disaster movie' in the Big Apple

In New York, roads and subways looked "straight out of a disaster movie Thursday," CNN affiliate WCBS reported. Cell phone video showed waist-high water at at station at 157th Street.

The flooding was caused by storms that preceded Elsa hitting the city, CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett said.

Water streamed down the steps of 149th Street station in the Bronx Thursday evening, video posted by William Ferrante showed.

And water appeared to be pouring onto the platform from the ceiling at a station at Houston and Varrick streets, video posted by Donovan Blyden on Thursday evening showed.

"The concrete above ground does not absorb the water. The water comes through the vents down the stairs in those waterfalls, and then if the drains at the street level can't handle the water, it goes over the curb and makes things even worse," Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chair Sarah Feinberg said, according to WCBS.

No stations were flooded Friday morning, MTA spokesperson Renee Price said. Crews were out working all night, and normal operations have resumed, Price said.

Even when Elsa's center passes an area, residents there can still expect to see heavy bands of rainfall on the outskirts.

Tornadoes reported across the South

Tornadoes were reported across northern Florida and southeastern Georgia on Wednesday, including an EF-2 tornado that caused multiple injuries and damage at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Kings Bay, Georgia.

Elsa's first US target was Florida -- and it caused damage near the Georgia-Florida state line and one death in Jacksonville.

The system made landfall Wednesday along the Gulf Coast in Taylor County, Florida, the NHC said. Roads flooded in Steinhatchee, CNN affiliate WCTV reported.

In Jacksonville, winds from Elsa caused a tree to fall on two cars during an afternoon commute, killing one person, Jacksonville fire rescue Capt. Eric Prosswimmer said. A possible tornado hit the area Wednesday evening, according to Mayor Lenny Curry.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the flash flood alert for portions of the Northeast. It is a flash flood watch.

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