By CBS3 Staff

OCEAN CITY, N.J. (CBS) — All eyes are on Tropical Storm Elsa at the Jersey Shore, leaving people preparing for potentially dangerous conditions.

Ocean City is bracing for a night of heavy rain and high winds from Elsa. The rain and wind have picked up steadily as the night has gone on, and this is just the start.

“You never really know what’s going to happen,” Sandy Beyel of Ocean City said.

Gray skies and light rain started falling before dinnertime Thursday, a sign of what was to come for Ocean City as Elsa made landfall in New Jersey.

The Beyel family watches for flooding after Sandy destroyed their previous house in 2012.

“There were lines where the water had been in every room downstairs,” Beyel said.

They say they’ll be closely watching when this storm strikes.

“Depending on the tide, because if it’s all coming in and it has nowhere to go, then it’s going to sit for a while,” Beyel said.

Just down 8th Street, wind is the concern for the Sorensen family.

“We found some of our furniture three blocks up by the Acme,” Steve Sorensen said.

Last year, they learned their lesson. This time around, they’re not taking any chances.

“We tied everything down, all the floats outback,” Sorensen said.

Even as the rain picked up, boardwalk goers didn’t seem deterred.

“We decided we’d take our shot at getting on the rides,” Paige Cole said.

“We’re just having the best time. It doesn’t even matter if it’s raining a little bit,” Cari Landman said.

The Landmans vacation here every year and say they’re taking the forecast in stride.

“If we have to be inside, it’s a movie day, but I’m sure we’ll get out for ice cream. We always do,” Landman said.

While a dance team got their ice cream in early, they’re crossing their fingers Elsa will go elsewhere — sooner rather than later.

As of 12 p.m., it looked like it was a nice beach day, but Avalon officials are reminding people to secure all loose objects in yards and on decks and to move patio furniture and umbrellas inside.

Drone Watch 3 caught surfers catching waves in Avalon this afternoon. There were also plenty of people swimming in the water and enjoying the ocean breeze. Some say they are not too worried about the storm headed their way.

Officials still urge people to be prepared, including parking their cars on higher ground.

“Every time we have a storm we think of Hurricane Sandy and what we had to go through and that was a very significant event,” Avalon Borough Administrator Scott Wahl said. “Elsa brings us a shorter event for a shorter amount of impact.”

He says people should bring in loose objects.

CBS3 also met a man who spent the day building a mega sandcastle and he dug deep moats around it to at least try to protect his creation from any storm surge.

“That’s the best part actually, that’s what I’m waiting for,” Chris Hassler said. “That’s why I built all the defenses so I can get to that battle, yeah.”

Some people were preparing for the storm in another way, stocking up the liquor cabinets. Customers at Fred’s Liquors were getting what they consider essentials for any storm.

The manager tells CBS3 it’s been a busy morning.

“Definitely grabbing a couple extra 12 packs, or they’ll go for the handle instead of the smaller bottle of vodka or whiskey so that’s kind of a good thing, always good to see,” the manager said.

For those heading down the shore for the weekend, being indoors will probably be the best place to be Thursday and Friday.

Around 4 p.m. in Wildwood, the surf was starting to look choppy as Elsa makes her way up the East Coast.

CBS3’s Matt Petrillo and Alicia Roberts contributed to this report.

Stay with CBS3, and CBSN Philly for team coverage as Elsa moves into the Philadelphia region.