This GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Tuesday, July 6, 2021, at 5:50 p.m. EDT, and provided by NOAA, shows Tropical Storm Elsa in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. Credit: NOAA via AP

The National Weather Service is predicting that Tropical Storm Elsa will pass directly over the Gulf of Maine from Cape Cod to the Bay of Fundy on Friday afternoon and evening.

The storm, which reached hurricane-speed winds of 74 mph or more as it sailed through the Caribbean and then again late Tuesday off the west coast of Florida, had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph as of 8 a.m. Wednesday as it approached land.

Elsa dumped rain along a long stretch of Florida’s Gulf Coast early Wednesday but appears to have spared significant damage and power outages. Forecasters said Elsa would slice across inland north Florida as a tropical storm with strong rains and wind, then move on to Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia before heading out in the Atlantic Ocean again early Friday morning.

The cyclone is predicted to weaken to a tropical depression with sustained wind speeds of less than 39 mph as it passes over the Carolinas and Virginia, but return to tropical storm strength with winds of 39 mph or more as it passes over Delaware and then skirts the coast on its way northeast. It is expected to pass directly over New York City on Friday morning and then retain its tropical storm status as it starts to pass over the Gulf of Maine that afternoon.

Elsa then is expected to lose strength again Friday evening as it clips the eastern corner of Maine and then travels over New Brunswick early Saturday morning.

National Weather Service forecasters in Maine are predicting the storm will bring needed rain to the state — most of which is experiencing moderate to severe drought — including nearly an inch or more to eastern and northern Maine.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....