Tropical Storm Elsa was expected to brush past Bulloch County Thursday morning after dumping several inches of rain, bringing the threat of tornadoes and producing wind gusts of 35 mph.
No major damage or injuries were reported as of Wednesday evening, but Bulloch was under a tornado watch from 1 to 8 p.m. and was part of Gov. Brian Kemp’s State of Emergency order.
After making landfall late Wednesday morning along Florida’s northern Gulf coast, Elsa took a more northern track than originally forecast, with the center of the storm crossing just east of Swainsboro.
Public Safety/Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Wynn said area residents may still experience some scattered power outages Thursday from trees and limbs impacted by the winds.
After moving into South Carolina early Thursday, the storm track is expected to keep Elsa inland through Delaware and then into New England by Saturday.
Elsa wobbled through the Gulf of Mexico, briefly reaching hurricane strength, but moved ashore as a tropical storm Wednesday morning. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm made landfall in lightly populated Taylor County, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
The storm also temporarily halted demolition Wednesday on the remainder of an overturned cargo ship off the coast of Georgia. The South Korean freighter Golden Ray capsized in September 2019 off St. Simons Island, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Savannah. Crews have removed more than half the ship since November.
Most salvage workers were sheltering indoors Wednesday, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes, a spokesperson for the multiagency command overseeing the demolition. The towering crane being used to cut the ship apart into giant chunks remained in place straddling the wreck, stabilized by mooring lines attached to anchors and pilings. The crane was also anchored to the shipwreck itself, which weighs about 13,200 tons, Himes said.
“As far as the wreck shifting, that’s highly unlikely,” Himes said.
Himes said crews would be watching to see if Elsa’s winds scatter any debris from the ship into the surrounding water. The vessel’s remains are open at both ends, like a giant tube on its side, and its cargo decks still contain hundreds of bashed and mangled cars.
Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.