Delaware, New Jersey coasts prep for heavy rain from Tropical Storm Elsa

Forecasters say heavy rain, not high wind, will be the biggest impact as Tropical Storm Elsa makes its way through the Mid-Atlantic late Thursday and early Friday.

An overhead shot of the beach in Delaware.

File photo: An overhead shot of the beach in Delaware. (Office of Gov. John Carney)

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Jersey Shore, the Delaware Beaches, and inland Sussex County as Tropical Storm Elsa makes its way through the Carolinas.

The storm is expected to bring drenching rains and possible flooding to the region overnight Thursday through Friday morning.

Coastal areas could experience up to 45 miles per hour winds and up to six inches of rain.

Those further inland could see one to two inches of rain and wind gusts between 20 and 30 miles per hour.

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Rain is expected to start late Thursday evening and leave the region rather quickly.

“The rain will come to an end by 7 or 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. It’ll be well to our north and east by then and so pretty much everything should be done by morning rush hour tomorrow,” said Jason Franklin, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

A Flash Flood Watch will go into effect later Thursday afternoon and run through Friday morning.

The rain forecast is well below what the area experienced last year as Tropical Storm Isaias moved through, with large swaths seeing four to six inches and some spots getting up to eight inches of rain.

“Last year, for sure, was one of the most surreal experiences for emergency managers across the country, whether it was the pandemic, wildfires out west, or a record-setting hurricane season here in the east,” said Joseph Thomas, director of the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center. “In all that, the one common thread that ties it all together is the need for preparation. As long as we are prepared, we can handle just about anything.”

The National Hurricane Center says Elsa brings little threat of storm surge along the coast, but “rough surf, erosion, and life-threatening rip currents are possible.”

The Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be above normal this year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a total of 13 to 20 named storms, with three to five storms turning into major hurricanes.

Elsa is the fifth named storm so far this year, making it the earliest there have been five named storms on record, according to NOAA.

Elsa is expected to leave the region by 8 a.m. Friday.

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