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Hurricane Elsa won’t spoil Independence Day fireworks in Tampa Bay

Even with a hurricane looming, the effects of Elsa won’t reach Tampa Bay until Monday night at the earliest.
LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
Fireworks blast off in front of the Tampa Convention Center, one of four locations around the river during the City of Tampa's Boom by the Bay independence day celebration on Thursday, July 4, 2019 in Tampa.
LUIS SANTANA | Times Fireworks blast off in front of the Tampa Convention Center, one of four locations around the river during the City of Tampa's Boom by the Bay independence day celebration on Thursday, July 4, 2019 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Jul. 3

Hurricane Elsa may still have Tampa Bay in its sights, but the storm won’t arrive in time to spoil Fourth of July celebrations.

Forecasters project Elsa will start bringing tropical-storm-level winds and heavy rains on Monday night — a full 24 hours after fireworks are slated to illuminate the sky over Tampa Bay.

Dustin Norman of the National Weather Service’s Ruskin office said Friday that there will be a 40 percent chance of showers to start Sunday but they’ll move far enough east in time for fireworks. That forecast led officials on both sides of Tampa Bay to confirm their fireworks shows would continue as usual.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said Friday that her signature event as mayor — Boom by the Bay — is happening Sunday despite the looming hurricane and a potential Stanley Cup clinching game for the Tampa Bay Lightning the following night.

Related: Tampa’s Boom by the Bay fireworks show is back this Fourth of July

”Boom by the Bay is a go,” Castor told reporters in an afternoon news conference. She said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters had assured her that Sunday’s weather “is going to be perfect.” If they’re wrong, Castor quipped, they’ll be tossed off the famed Gasparilla ship gangplank.

Castor launched what is now the nation’s fifth-largest fireworks show in 2019 a few months after she took office. Last year, the coronavirus pandemic forced the city to postpone, then cancel the event.

The mayor said the city’s 4,300 employees have been put on alert and are ready to pivot from the massive fireworks show — six locations where projectiles will launch into the air between Armature Works and Sparkman’s Wharf — to handling a watch party for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena.

“We are a well-oiled machine,” she said. “We’re ready for whatever comes our way.”

A similar message was sent from Mayor Rick Kriseman’s office in St. Petersburg: Its fireworks show, slated for 9 p.m. at the St. Pete Pier, is still a go as normal.

“Mayor Kriseman is keeping a close eye on Hurricane Elsa, and will continue to monitor it closely through the weekend,” he said in an email. “We do not anticipate it having an impact on 4th of July events, but will be prepared for any scenario.”

Related: Where to find fireworks in Tampa Bay for July Fourth

Clearwater’s fireworks display on Saturday and Sunday had not been canceled as of Friday. The cities of Largo, Safety Harbor and Treasure Island gave no indication that they planned to postpone their shows.