The 2020 hurricane season continues its relentless onslaught as Tropical Storm Eta, the 28th named storm of the season,with pouring rains and lashing winds. Typically, Central America is a hurricane graveyard – but not Eta. Forecasters increasingly fear that Eta will reappear over the warm Caribbean waters and then head to Florida this weekend.
Right now Eta is gradually weakening over land, but it is expected to head to the Caribbean on Friday and move northeast. The models show how the system is reorganizing and becoming a little more modest this weekend in the Caribbean and Florida Straits north of Cuba. At least two other landscapes seem likely along this path: Cuba on Sunday and possibly South Florida on Monday.
If Eta lands along the US coast, it would break the record for most cited storms to make a US landing in a season of 12. If it regains the strength of a hurricane, it would break the record for most US hurricanes landing.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Tropical Storm Eta will be inland near the border between Honduras and Nicaragua and moving further west towards Central America. The system is predicted to weaken further into a tropical depression, but it will continue to pour torrential rain and cause flash floods.
Later this week, Eta will feel the impact of steering the upper level north, causing the storm to make a hard right turn and pushing him back across the hot waters of the northern Caribbean. While some intensification is likely, it will be limited, at least initially, as Eta will struggle with some dry air, higher-level wind shear, interaction with Cuba’s landmass, and limited time.
By Saturday, the system will cross Cuba, likely as a tropical storm, and then head towards South Florida. It is still uncertain how strong Eta will be and how far the storm will hit South Florida. Most likely, Eta will either be a major tropical storm or even a low-end hurricane. Some models show a direct hit while others show a fleeting blow over the Florida Keys.
Regardless of the exact route, Eta will run a very wet route through South Florida from Friday until the beginning of next week. Depending on the route, there may appear to be more than a foot of rain in some places.
After the storm struck south Florida, most models show it snaking westward into the Gulf of Mexico early next week. The golf water is still warm enough for Eta to regain its strength. While it’s too early to know if and where another landing might take place, some guidance suggests that another landing on the Gulf Coast is possible by the middle of next week.