National Hurricane Center has issued a tropical storm warning for the Florida west coast from Bonita Beach to the Suwanee River, including Pinellas County.
In addition, a storm surge watch has been issued for the Florida west coast from Bonita Beach to the Steinhatchee River, including Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor.
A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area within 36 hours. A storm surge watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline in the watch area during the next 48 hours. Storm surge of 2-4 feet is possible in the Tampa Bay area.
At 10 p.m. Nov. 10, Tropical Storm Eta was about 315 miles south-southwest of Tampa. It was moving north-northeast a 9 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 65 mph.
NHC says the center of Eta will move closer to but remain offshore the west coast of Florida on Wednesday as it makes it way toward landfall on the northern portion of the Florida peninsula on Thursday. Some additional strengthening is expected and Eta could reach near hurricane strength by Wednesday morning.
However, the forecast continues to remain uncertain with computer models in disagreement. Eta has shifted to the east in the last two updates. NHC says additional adjustments to the track and intensity forecast could be required overnight.
National Weather Service says tropical storm conditions are possible in the local area beginning Wednesday night and continuing through Thursday. The chance of rain Wednesday night is 60%. Wind gusts as high as 40-50 mph is possible early Wednesday afternoon through Thursday evening. Lightweight outdoor objects should be secured or brought indoors. Power outages are possible.
A flash flood watch is in effect through Friday afternoon as Eta’s rain bands bringing the possibility of localized heavy rainfall. Flooding is possible.
Pinellas County has activated its Emergency Operations Center to a Level 2 and the information center is open for any storm-related questions. Call 727-464-4333. The deaf or those hard of hearing can chat online at bit.ly/PinellasChat.
For preparation information, visit http://www.pinellascounty.org/resident/disasters.htm.
Meanwhile, the 29th named storm of the season formed early Tuesday morning. Theta was located southwest of the Azores. It was moving eastward over the Atlantic Ocean and expected to move east-northeastward over the next few days. It is no immediate threat to land.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate prediction experts forecast early on that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season would be a busy one. Eta was the 28th named storm of a season that has already had 12 hurricanes and five major hurricanes.
An average hurricane season includes 12 named storms with six strengthening into a hurricane and three becoming a major hurricane.
The 2020 season was tied with 2005 for being the most active, but Theta broke the record. 2020 is the second season to use Greek letters to name storms. The first season was 2005.
Eleven storms have made landfall in the United States this year, which breaks the record of nine set in 1916.
NOAA predicted that this year could have between 19-25 named storms, seven-11 hurricanes and three-six major hurricanes, which are a Category 3 or above.