Tropical Storm Eta pounded Cuba with strong winds, heavy rains and storm surge Sunday as forecasters warned the deadly storm would strengthen en route to the Florida Keys.
Gov. Ron DeSantis warned Floridians to stash seven days of supplies. National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham said in a Facebook Live post Sunday that Eta could regain hurricane status before the storm arrives overnight.
“You’re going to be dealing with Eta all week,” Graham said. “It’s going to take a lot to get this thing out of here.”
Last week Eta stormed through Central America as a Category 4 hurricane, triggering deadly mudslides that destroyed entire villages. The center of Eta was forecast to pass near or over the Florida Keys into Monday, and be over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.
“Exactly where and when Eta makes this turn will determine the extent and magnitude of impacts in Florida,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said. “Although locally damaging winds, heavy rain and some flooding are likely in at least South Florida and the Florida Keys.”
Eta is a little late by hurricane season standards. Should Eta strike as a hurricane, it would be just the fourth U.S. hurricane landfall in November since 1851, WeatherTiger reports. If it arrives as a tropical storm, it would be the first to hit the state in November since Tropical Storm Mitch in 1998. Hurricane season officially ends Nov. 30 but can extend into December.
The Florida Keys and peninsula have mostly been spared the brunt of damage from the record-setting, 2020 Atlantic hurricane season that has spawned 28 named systems. Incredibly, no landfalls have occurred in the state yet this season.
“Eta may make a second pass across the state,” WeatherTiger’s Ryan Truchelut warned. “Big picture: Both the Panhandle and the Florida Gulf Coast should be poised to react to a hurricane threat this week.”
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Source: USA Today