It was not immediately clear whether a tornado touched down. The National Hurricane Center said in a 2 a.m. advisory that Elsa has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (80 kph) and was located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Elsa was already blamed for one death in Florida on Wednesday. And the system previously sparked a damaging tornado in Georgia.
A tropical storm warning Friday morning stretched along the East Coast from Delaware to Massachusetts. Forecasters said Elsa was moving northeast at 25 mph (40 kph).
The hurricane center said rainfall totals between 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) were expected through Friday for eastern Mid-Atlantic states and into New England. Isolated totals up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) were possible. There was a risk of considerable flash and urban flooding.
The tropical storm was expected to cross over the Northeast by the afternoon and move over Atlantic Canada by the night and Saturday. No significant change in strength was expected during the day, and Elsa is forecast to become a post-tropical cyclone by Friday night.
On Wednesday, nine people were injured in coast Camden County, Georgia, when a tornado struck a campground for active-duty service members and military retirees. Eight of those hurt had to be taken to hospitals, Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base spokesperson Chris Tucker said.
The EF-2 tornado flipped over multiple RVs, throwing one of the overturned vehicles about 200 feet (61 meters) into a lake, the National Weather Service said in a preliminary report early Thursday after its employees surveyed the damage.
Sergio Rodriguez, who lives near the RV park, said he raced to the scene fearing friends staying at the park might be hurt.
“There were just RVs flipped over on their sides, pickup trucks flipped over, a couple of trailers had been shifted and a couple of trailers were in the water” of a pond on the site, Rodriguez said in a phone interview.
Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida, said one person was killed Wednesday when a tree fell and struck two cars. A spokesperson for the Naval Air Force Atlantic Office said Thursday that a sailor assigned to Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron 16 in Jacksonville was killed.
In South Carolina, a Coast Guard Air Station Savannah crew rescued a family that became stranded Wednesday on Otter Island after their boat drifted off the beach. The group was flown to a hospital in good health, a Coast Guard news release said.
The National Weather Service in Morehead City, North Carolina, tweeted that a tornado was spotted near Fairfield on Thursday afternoon.
Scattered power outages were being reported along Elsa's path Friday morning, with about 25,000 homes and businesses without electricity from Delaware to Massachusetts, according to the website poweroutages.us.
Elsa is the earliest fifth-named storm on record, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.
Anderson reported from St. Petersburg, Florida. Associated Press writers Jeff Martin in Marietta, Georgia; Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina; Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this story.
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