The weather service said in its 2 a.m. EDT advisory that heavy rains and gusty winds continue to spread inland across southwest and west-central Florida.
As of the time of the advisory, tropical storm Elsa was 60 miles (95 kilometers) west of Tampa, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (115 km/h), and was moving north at 14 mph (22 km/h), according to the NHC.
“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 NHC said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis previously said that forecasts called for Elsa to come ashore sometime between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
A hurricane warning is in effect for a long stretch of coastline, from Egmont Key at the mouth of Tampa Bay to the Steinhatchee River.
A storm surge warning is in effect for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in the Tampa Bay area.
The NHC said that a few tornadoes were possible overnight across the western and central Florida Peninsula, and that a tornado threat continues across north Florida, southeast Georgia, and eastern South Carolina. The threat is expected to shift to the eastern Carolinas and far southeast Virginia on Thursday.
Elsa had previously strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane late on Tuesday. It had also on July 2 briefly strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane before weakening back to a tropical storm on July 3, when it battered several Caribbean island nations east of Cuba, killing at least three people—two in the Dominican Republic and one in St. Lucia.