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Tropical Storm Elsa makes its way past Southwest Florida Fort Myers News-Press

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After a stormy and dangerous night with fierce lightning strikes hitting many areas around the entire state, the unfavorable forecast continues into Wednesday and is looking to stay over the next few days as Tropical Storm Elsa begins to make its way toward New Jersey.

Humid and hot temperatures will continue Wednesday with a heat advisory still in effect through 8 p.m. for most of the state, excluding Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties, according to the National Weather Service. 

Temperatures will hover around the high 80s to low 90s, but heat index values are saying it will feel over 102 degrees outside for most of the state throughout the day.

With Elsa on its way to New Jersey, a tropical storm watch has been issued for parts of the New Jersey coastline, including Manasquan in Monmouth County, Cape May and the Great Egg Harbor Inlet in Atlantic County, according to an advisory from the National Weather Service.

During this time, winds between 60 and 75 mph will be felt between Thursday night into Friday morning, which have the potential to cause hazardous seas that could damage vessels and reduce visibility. Additionally, tropical storm force winds could lead to scattered trees and power line damage.

A flash flood watch is also in effect from Thursday afternoon through Friday morning, as Elsa will move across portions of southern New Jersey bringing heavy rainfall to the northeast, according to the National Weather Service. Rainfall amounts will range from 2 to 3 inches, with locally higher amounts up to 5 inches new the state's coast.

Tuesday night brought powerful storms and fierce lightning strikes, leaving more than 40,000 homes and businesses without power Wednesday morning. During the storm's peak, an estimated 900 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were reported in a single hour across New Jersey, according to the weather service.

Tropical Storm Elsa: 13 million people under tropical storm warning as Elsa set to make landfall Wednesday morning

More unsettling weather is expected Wednesday afternoon, as a trough will linger over the state, bringing another round of thunderstorms which will be capable of intense downpours, more frequent lightning, hail, and wind gusts up to 75 mph, forecasters said.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for parts of central and all of northern New Jersey until 11 p.m. Wednesday. The counties under the watch include Bergen, Essex, Union, Morris, Mercer, Sussex, Monmouth, Middlesex, Warren, Somerset, Hunterdon, and Passaic.

A cold front is then expected to approach New Jersey Thursday with areas of heavy fog in the morning, which will produce scattered showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening hours, according to private meteorologist Steven DiMartino, who runs NY NJ PA Weather. 

Similar to Wednesday, these thunderstorms will produce intense downpours and sustained wind gusts up to 75 mph on Thursday.

Elsa has made its way to the southern part of the country, and its impact on New Jersey is within days.

Tropical Storm Elsa has picked up speed and its remnants are expected to arrive in New Jersey sometime Friday morning, as the storm is likely dropping off 1 to 3 inches of heavy rainfall across most areas in central and southern New Jersey through at least Friday evening, according to the latest advisory from the National Weather Service.

Tracking Elsa: Storm weakens to a tropical storm as it takes aim at Florida

A tropical storm warning is in effect for parts of the west central North Atlantic Ocean, just miles away from the New Jersey coastline, as forecasters are calling for individual waves to be more than twice the significant wave height over the next few days, the weather service said.

Elsa is expected to collide with an advancing cold front, and when it does, residents can expect to see widespread heavy rainfall with extremely windy conditions, according to DiMartino.

"Rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 with locally higher amounts along the immediate coast can be expected along with flash flooding," DiMartino said. "Winds over the interior will hover around 15 to 30 mph with gusts over 40 mph along the coast. A few locations along the immediate coast may experience sustained winds between 40 to 45 mph for a short time with higher gusts."

Flash flooding, poor visibility for both the morning and evening commutes, and significant wind damage will be the primary threats on Friday.

Elsa made landfall near the western and northern Florida Peninsula Wednesday, bringing life-threatening storm surge along portions of western Florida and severe flash and urban flooding, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm, downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm status, was centered about 115 miles northwest of Tampa and driving sustained winds of 65 mph, was headed north at about 14 mph, forecasters said. A tropical storm warning is in place for more than 13 million people, but no fatalities or serious injuries had been reported so far.

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Much of Central Florida remained under a tornado watch as rain bands and severe thunderstorms associated with Elsa move across the state. A few tornadoes remain possible across west-central to north Florida into Wednesday afternoon.

Elsa's remnants will head north by Thursday morning, before bringing heavy rainfall, serious wind damage and the potential for storm surge across southeastern Georgia, the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia throughout Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.

After it collides with a cold front coming from the northwest, heavy rain which cold lead to isolated flash and urban flooding, is expected to begin in most areas of southern New Jersey by Friday morning. 

Forecasters from the weather service anticipate multiple warnings and advisories to be sent out for the state on Thursday night, including a tropical storm and severe thunderstorm warning.

Joshua Chung is the 9-5 breaking news and weather reporter. A lifelong Jersey Shore resident, he is a recent graduate of Michigan State University. Contact him at jchung@gannettnj.com, 917-703-9373 or on Twitter @Joshchunggg

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