Lee County declares state of emergency
Heavy rain and varying winds expected to last until late evening
Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais announced a state of emergency has been declared in Lee County due to increasing wind gusts and rain from Tropical Storm Elsa.
Desjarlais said wind gusts could vary throughout the night. According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts are expected to reach 40 mph but could top off at 50 mph in Lee County.
Desjarlais said the winds will vary in velocity until midnight. The eye of the storm is about 125 miles off the coast. “What we expect locally is the winds will become variable,” Desjarlais.
Tropical Storm Elsa is projected to turn into a hurricane over the next few hours off short but will not be a hurricane over Lee County. The storm is expected to make landfall as a hurricane north of Pinellas County sometime late Tuesday night or in the early morning hours, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Keily Delerme.
Lee County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Kevin Ruane said county offices closed at 2 p.m. and buses have been taken off the road.
“If you go home now, stay home. Don’t come out,” Ruane said. “Now is the time to make your way home given the adjustments to the forecast.”
Delerme said rain accumulation of between 2-4 inches is expected throughout Lee County though it could be higher in low-lying areas. Storm surges of between 2-4 feet are possible inland near the coast and the beaches.
Delerme expects the storm to be over with for Lee County by 10 p.m. to midnight “depending on how fast the storm moves along the coast.”
On Fort Myers Beach, Fishermans Wharf was flooded and there were pockets of flooding in other sections off Main Street as of 6 p.m.