KEY WEST, FLA. (WSVN) - Tropical Storm Elsa continues its westward path toward Florida, but the system did not prevent revelers from celebrating the Fourth of July in Key West.
Sunday brought blue skies and sunny weather to the tourist destination. It’s hard to believe the weather will likely be dramatically different on Monday, as meteorologists forecast gusty winds and several inches of rain.
7News cameras captured a sizable crowd along Duval Street late Sunday afternoon, as people packed bars and restaurants.
When asked how the day has been, visitor Cary Soria said, “Perfect, perfect.”
With temperatures reaching the 90s, there was more focus on the heat than on Elsa among visitors.
“[It was] hot,” said visitor Donna Higgins.
There was not a storm shutter in sight along Duval Street. The only flooding on Sunday was a flood of tourists.
Elsa approaches the Sunshine State as it experiences a post-pandemic travel boom. Prices of hotels and car rentals are surging, so tourists determined they were not going to let Elsa dampen their holiday weekend plans.
When asked whether she considered cancelling her vacation, visitor Kelsey Yonikus said, “Yes.”
Yonikus, who traveled to South Florida from Ohio, said she doesn’t know what to expect, as potentially severe weather is expected to move in Monday evening.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned that, despite the cone of concern’s shift to the west, Elsa could still pack a punch to where it lands in the state.
“We are looking at storm surge, we are looking at heavy rainfall,” he said.
Thirty miles north of Key West, on Big Pine Key, residents take a tropical storm like Elsa seriously.
Bed and breakfast owners Harry Appel and Jennifer DeMaria said they are prepped and ready to go.
“We are pretty well prepared,” said Appel.
Just in case the storm strengthens, they have a trailer packed and will haul it out of there if necessary.
Appel and DeMaria, who own and operate the Deer Run Bed and Breakfast, survived being underneath the eye of Hurricane Irma back in 2017. Their home and beachside business, however, were destroyed.
“I don’t want to say as bad as it gets, because we’re alive, but we were closed for two solid years,” said DeMaria.
Appel and DeMaria have since reopened the inn, but they still need to rebuild their home.
When asked whether she is worried about the system or just being cautions, DeMaria replied, “We’re just being cautious. I don’t think we are going to have a major impact, but ‘do not ever take anything for granted’ is kind of the philosophy after everything we’ve been through.”
Monroe County declared a state of local emergency on Saturday, but officials have not ordered any mandatory evacuations.
Nevertheless, county officials urge those who live in RVs, mobile homes or boats in the Middle to Lower Keys to either move their homes or find a safer place to stay for the next few days.
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