Hurricane season 2020 continues its relentless attack as ETA, the 28th storm of the season,With heavy rain and strong winds. Central America is usually a graveyard for hurricanes – but not ETA. Increasingly, forecasters are concerned that ETA will re-emerge over the warm waters of the Caribbean and then head towards Florida this weekend.
ETA was weakening above ground overnight and the one-time violent hurricane was a tropical depression as of 4 am EST, according to the US National Hurricane Center in Miami. However, ETA is expected to head to the Caribbean on Friday and move towards the northeast. The models show a reorganization of the system, with some modest reinforcements this weekend over the Caribbean and the Florida Straits, north of Cuba. Along this path, it seems likely that there will be at least two other excuses: Cuba on Sunday and possibly South Florida on Monday.
If ETA made landfall along the US coast, it would break the record for most so-called storms to make landfall in the US in one season, at 12. If hurricane strength regained, it would break the record for most US hurricanes landing on land.
As of Thursday night, ETA was directly over central Honduras and continues to move westward, deeper into Central America. The system is expected to continue throwing torrential rains and causing flash floods. The hurricane center said it was “likely to deteriorate to what remains of a low trough or a bottom of low pressure” Thursday morning.
So far, ETA has been blamed for at least four deaths.
Later this week, ETA will begin to feel the effect of steering the upper level north causing the storm to turn rightward, and push it back over the hot northern Caribbean waters. While some condensation is possible, it will be limited, at least initially, because ETA will have to deal with some dry air, upper wind shear, interaction with landfall in Cuba, and limited time.
By Saturday, the system will cross Cuba, likely as a tropical storm, and then head toward southern Florida. It remains uncertain how strong ETA will be and the degree to which the storm will affect southern Florida. ETA is likely to be either a strong tropical storm or even a low-end hurricane. Some models show head-to-head success, while others show a lightning bolt on the Florida Keys.
Regardless of the exact route, ETA will bring a period of extremely humid weather across South Florida from Friday through early next week. Depending on the track, it appears likely that there will be more than a foot of rain in some areas.
After the storm passes through southern Florida, most models show it heading west to the Gulf of Mexico early next week. The Gulf waters are still warm enough to restore ETA’s strength again. Although it is too early to tell if and where another landing could take place, some guidelines point to the possibility of another landing on the Gulf Coast by the middle of next week.
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