UPDATED: Elsa weakens to tropical storm, heads towards Florida Gulf coast

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Elsa weakened to a tropical storm early on Wednesday and is expected to hit the north Florida Gulf coast later in the morning, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

It had strengthened to a hurricane, the first of the season, on Tuesday night along south west of Tampa Bay.

The storm was 60 miles (95 km) west of Tampa Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (115 km/h), the NHC said in an advisory issued at 0600 GMT.

Elsa also briefly strengthened to a hurricane last week, when it killed at least three people, blew roofs off homes, toppled trees and sparked flooding in Caribbean island nations east of Cuba.

“Elsa is forecast to make landfall along the north Florida Gulf coast by late Wednesday morning and then move across the southeastern United States through Thursday,” the hurricane center said.

A few tornadoes were possible overnight across the western and central Florida Peninsula, the NHC added. 

Photo: A motorcycle drives in intense waves in the avenue of the Malecon, during the passage of tropical storm Elsa in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. EPA-EFE/Orlando Barria