Tropics watch: Hurricane Eta inches toward Central America as strong Category 4 storm

Cheryl McCloud
| Naples Daily News

Hurricane Eta is inching close to the northeastern coast of Nicaragua as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane.

After landfall, Eta is forecast to curve back into the Caribbean, with most models showing it passing over or through Cuba. Whether it will then affect Florida remains unknown at this time.

Historic strength: Hurricane Eta could reach Category 5 status when it hits Central America on Tuesday

Season won’t end: ‘I don’t think the season is done’: November hurricanes are rare, but not this year

Eta is the 12th hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and the 28th named Atlantic storm this season, tying the 2005 record for named storms, according to Philip Klotzbach, meteorologist at Colorado State University who specializes in Atlantic basin hurricane forecasts.

Eta is the strongest Atlantic hurricane this late in the calendar year since Otto in 2016, Klotzbach said.

Hurricane season continues until Nov. 30.

Here’s the latest update from the NHC as of 8 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3:

What’s out there and where is it? 

Hurricane Eta is about 30 miles southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua.

How likely is it to strengthen?

Hurricane Eta strengthened rapidly Monday, with winds at one point hitting 150 mph.

Tuesday morning, maximum sustained winds are near 145 mph, with higher gusts.  Little change in strength is likely before landfall. Weakening will begin after the center moves inland later today. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles, from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.

Compare Eta’s path with other historical storms

Details on Hurricane Eta

Slow-moving Eta is forecast to bring life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds, flash floods and landslides across portions of Central America.

  • Location: about 30 miles southeast of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua
  • Maximum sustained winds: 145 mph 
  • Present movement: west-southwest at 4 mph

Who is likely to be impacted?

It’s still too early at this time to determine whether Florida will feel the impact from Hurricane Eta. 

The new NHC track forecast shows the system emerging over the northwest Caribbean Sea and moving across or through Cuba.

Beyond Central America, Eta or a spin-off storm from Eta may meander northeast over the Caribbean Sea. In this case, impacts to Florida, Cuba and the Bahamas would not be completely out of the question during the second week of November, according to AccuWeather. It also is possible that Eta completely dissipates over Central America.

Forecasters advise all residents to stay informed and be prepared during this very active hurricane season.

In Central America, the expected impact of Eta include: 

Wind: Catastrophic wind damage is expected where Eta’s eyewall moves onshore within the hurricane warning area within the next few hours, with tropical storm conditions already occurring in this area. Tropical storm conditions are expected in the tropical storm warning area this morning, and hurricane conditions are possible in the hurricane watch area early today. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the tropical storm watch area later today.

Rainfall: Much of Nicaragua and Honduras could see 15 to 25 inches of rain, with isolated amounts of 35 inches.

Storm surge: A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 14 to 21 feet above normal tide levels in areas of onshore winds along the coast of Nicaragua within the hurricane warning area, and 3 to 5 feet above normal tide levels along the coast of Honduras within the tropical storm warning area. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Surf: Swells generated by Eta are expected to affect portions of the coast of Central America and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico during the next few days. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Tracking the tropics in real time:

These graphics, which update automatically, show you activity in the tropics in real time:

Latest images from National Hurricane Center:

USAT storm tracker:

Watches/warnings issued

A hurricane warning is in effect for:

  •  The coast of Nicaragua from the Honduras/Nicaragua border to Sandy Bay Sirpi

A tropical storm warning is in effect for:

  • The northeastern coast of Honduras from Punta Patuca to the Honduras/Nicaragua border

A hurricane watch is in effect for:

  • The northeastern coast of Honduras from Punta Patuca to the Honduras/Nicaragua border

A tropical storm watch is in effect for:

  • The northern coast of Honduras from west of Punta Patuca westward to Punta Castilla

What’s next?

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