Tropics watch: Tropical Storm Eta batters Central America; Florida in center of forecast track

Cheryl McCloud
| Naples Daily News

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Hurricane Eta slams into Central America

A rare, Category 4 Hurricane Eta hit Nicaragua with 140-mile-per-hour winds, and could eventually make it’s way to the United States.

Eta weakened  overnight into a strong tropical storm after making landfall in Nicaragua Tuesday as a Category 4 hurricane.

The current track for Eta shows all of southern Florida in its path. The National Weather Service in Miami warned residents of the potential for heavy rain and flooding in South Florida starting Thursday night and lasting through Monday.

While it is too soon to determine the exact timing, magnitude, and location of possible impacts from wind and rainfall, forecasters are warning Florida residents to monitor the progress of Eta through the week.

Aiming at Florida: Palm Beach County now in cone of Eta; at least heavy rains forecast for weekend

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 4 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4: 

What’s out there and where is it? 

Tropical Storm Eta is about 90 miles west of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, and moving to the west at 8 mph.

How likely is it to strengthen?

Eta is forecast to emerge over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 70 mph, with higher gusts. Continued weakening will occur while Eta moves over land during the next couple of days, and Eta should become a tropical depression tonight. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from the center.

The latest forecast has it strengthening once it gets back over the water, and coming to Florida this weekend as a tropical storm.

Compare Eta’s path with other historical storms

Details on Tropical Storm Eta

Slow-moving Eta is bring life-threatening flash floods across portions of Central America.

  • Location: about 90 miles west of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua
  • Maximum sustained winds: 70 mph 
  • Present movement: west at 8 mph

Who is likely to be impacted?

After weakening over Central America, Eta is forecast to regain tropical storm strength before it moves across portions of Cuba and approaches southern Florida this weekend.

While it is too soon to determine the exact timing, magnitude and location of possible impacts from wind and rainfall, residents in southern Florida, the Florida Keys and Cuba should monitor the progress of Eta through the week.

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: Tropical storm conditions are expected in the warning areas through this morning.

Rainfall: Much of Nicaragua and Honduras could see 15 to 25 inches of rain, with isolated amounts of 40 inches. This rainfall will lead to catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain of Central America. Flash flooding and river flooding will be possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti, and the Cayman Islands.

Storm surge: Water levels along the coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras should gradually decrease today.

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
  •  The coast of Nicaragua from south of Sandy Bay Sirpi to Laguna de Perlas.

What’s next?

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