While some residents and tourists in the Florida Keys left ahead of the expected impacts of Tropical Storm Elsa, many seem willing to ride out the storm that began arriving with strong winds and rainfall late Monday night.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect for the Florida Keys from Craig Key west to the Dry Tortugas, along with much of Florida's west coast from Flamingo to the Ochlockonee River.
“Right now, we are asking our residents to secure boats and make final preparations," Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron said Monday to NBC 6 News.
A squall seen over the famed Seven Mile Bridge produced gusts of 35 miles per hour while locations such as Key West International Airport have reported winds as high as 50 miles per hour.
"It's pretty intense," said Gilbert Badger, a tourist visiting from New York. “I know it’s not a major storm by local standards, but it's sort of interesting to experience it”
Officials are asking residents to be prepared.
“We’re just asking folks to be out of harms way, out of the winds," county administrator Roman Gastesi said. “If you live on a boat or if you live on a trailer, you will see 50 to 60 mph winds. Don’t stay there.”
Three to 5 inches of rainfall with localized totals of up to 8 inches of rain are expected through Wednesday across the Keys and into southwest and western portions of the Florida Peninsula.
“It wasn’t really organized, a lot of rain and wind but (I'm) not worried about it," said Ryan Bennett, a Key West resident.
The forecast included the possibility of tornadoes across South Florida Tuesday morning and across the upper peninsula later in the day with 70 mph winds forecast at landfall.
Some residents, however, were preparing to say put.
“I’ve lived down here 30 years. I’ve been through every hurricane," one resident named Jack told NBC 6 News. "I never leave because I got to stay to protect my boat."
Mandatory evacuations in Monroe County were not expected for this storm.
"What we would tell people is to heed the warnings," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday.
Officials are concerned over potential damage to roads to Elsa in an area that was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017.
“We hope visitors will consider extending their stay through Wednesday, when we are expecting normal summertime conditions to resume,” Gastesi said. “We’re just asking folks to be out of harm's way, out of the winds.”