Most of the Florida peninsula including the Tampa Bay area is now in the forecast cone of Tropical Storm Eta.
The storm that made landfall as Category 4 hurricane in Nicaragua on Tuesday is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression as it boomerangs over Central America over the next couple days and then returns to the Caribbean Sea, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Forecasters then expect Eta — it rhymes with “beta” — to strengthen again, regaining tropical storm status as it moves northeast toward Cuba and Florida. The current forecast has the storm approaching the Florida peninsula early Monday and possibly moving into the Gulf of Mexico, but forecasters said a lot about the storm’s path and intensity is still unknown.
“While it is too soon to determine the exact timing, magnitude and location of possible impacts from wind and rainfall, interests in Cuba, Southern Florida and the Florida Keys should monitor the progress of Eta through the week,” the hurricane center’s Wednesday morning advisory said.
The storm is expected to cause potentially catastrophic flash-flooding, river flooding and landslides across portions of Central America.
Nicaragua was already seeing similar effects Tuesday night as the storm churned inland through the northeast part of the country, with devastating winds and rains that destroyed rooftops, caused rivers to overflow and left at least three people dead in the region.
As Eta spins to the northeast, the cyclone could then cause flooding in southeast Mexico, El Salvador, Jamaica, southern Haiti and the Cayman Islands, according to the hurricane center.
With Eta, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has generated enough “accumulated cyclone energy” to officially meet the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s definition of an “extremely active” season, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University. It’s the 11th Atlantic hurricane season since 1996 to earn that classification.
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2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
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