Tropical Storm Elsa has made landfall in Florida, lashing the Gulf Coast of the southern US state with strong winds and heavy rain, the National Hurricane Centre said.

The NHC said the centre of the storm, which was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane, was making landfall in Taylor County along the coast of northern Florida.

Elsa was packing maximum sustained winds of 100km per hour and was expected to weaken as it moved further inland on a northern trajectory.

Tampa airport suspended commercial flights, but the storm ended up making landfall well to the north of the third-largest city in Florida.

Elsa was logged as the first hurricane of this year's Atlantic season before being downgraded to a tropical storm again.

The NHC said the western and northern portions of the Florida Peninsula could expect between three and six inches of rain, raising the possibility of "considerable" flooding.

Authorities have warned the public to stockpile food

Tornadoes are possible in northern Florida, southeastern Georgia and eastern South Carolina, it said.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged residents to take precautions.

"This is not a time to joyride," DeSantis said at a press briefing. "You do have hazardous conditions out there."

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez called on Floridians to be prepared for the possibility of power blackouts and to stockpile adequate supplies of food and water.

Florida is being lashed with with strong winds and heavy rain

With gusting winds, Elsa has complicated an already challenging search mission for survivors of the 24 June deadly condo tower collapse in Surfside, a town north of Miami Beach on Florida's east coast.

The death toll has risen to 46 after 10 more bodies were extracted from the rubble, but 94 people are still unaccounted for.

A condo tower collapsed in Surfside, Miami, on 24 June

Over the weekend, Elsa battered Jamaica and Cuba, claiming at least three lives as it cut a path of destruction through the Caribbean.

States of alarm were sounded in the Cuban provinces of Havana, Mayabeque and Artemisa as thousands were evacuated from their homes.

These efforts are complicated by Covid-19 as the country endured its worst chapter yet of the pandemic.

"Protecting ourselves against Elsa cannot mean letting our guard down against Covid," Prime Minister Manuel Marrero said.

Shops closed in Havana and driving was restricted to civil defense vehicles.

Thousands have been evacuated from their homes in Cuba

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said late Sunday on Twitter that there had only been damage to farm crops.

Elsa's advent represented the earliest date ever that a fifth named storm, which does not typically arrive before August, has struck the region.

It claimed two lives in the Dominican Republic and a third in the island state of Santa Lucia, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency said.