WEST PALM BEACH, FL – Eta has appeared from Central America and is moving back over the Caribbean Sea. It is expected to become stronger as a tropical storm and may approach South Florida as well as Cuba through this weekend and early next week. The storm is projected to bring flooding rain in addition to high surf.
As the storm passed Central America’s mountainous terrain, it brought deadly flooding and landslides, especially in Honduras. CBS News says, “…forecasters are concerned Eta will reemerge over the warm Caribbean waters and then head toward Florida this weekend.”
There have been tropical storm watches issued for the Cayman Islands and it is believed that tropical storm conditions may occur there on Saturday. More watches may be issued for several parts of western Cuba.
The tropical storm is directed northeastward passing over the Caribbean’s northwest as it interacts with the counterclockwise flow in an upper-level low-pressure system within the Gulf of Mexico. It is then expected to combine or interact with the upper low this coming weekend. If that happens, it could cause Eta to move northwards to land just south of the southern Florida Peninsula where it will already have strengthened to a tropical or subtropical storm by the start of next week.
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The storm may then be pulled westward to reach the eastern Gulf of Mexico as it encounters an upper-level high-pressure system within the eastern states. It may roam for some days before being pulled northward as it interacts with an upper-level trough during the last days of next week.
If Eta happens to be pulled back to move over the eastern Gulf rather than heaving north across the Florida Peninsula, then it may make the last landfall somewhere along the northern Gulf Coast or the Gulf of Florida.
As the storm was moving over Central America, it caused catastrophic flooding, according to Weather.com.
Regardless of what eventually happens, it is expected to cause some areas of the Florida Peninsula to receive bands of heavy downpour associated with the increased moisture created. It’s also possible that rains will occur ahead of Eta because of the increase in tropical moisture. Areas of Bahamas and Southern Florida are projected to receive rainfall of about 5 to 10 inches through Wednesday morning with some areas receiving rainfall totaling 15 inches.
Eta has been the 28th named storm of this season and its presence in Central American has seen torrential rains along with whipping winds. Central America is considered a graveyard for hurricanes and tropical storms.
If Eta makes landfall down the U.S. coastline, it could break the record for the US having the most named storms to make landfalls in one season – at 12. In the event that it strengthens to become a hurricane, it would also break the record for US landfalling hurricanes in a season.
So far, Eta has caused at least 57 deaths across Central America and the damage could continue to increase as it makes landfalls.