National Hurricane Center forecasters say some uncertainty exists about the long-range path and intensity of Tropical Storm Eta; however, little doubt remains that it will bring wind, rain and potential flooding to parts of Florida including Pinellas County and Tampa Bay.
Emergency officials say the best thing to do is be prepared. Hurricane season doesn’t end until Nov. 30.
For preparation information, visit http://www.pinellascounty.org/resident/disasters.htm.
Pinellas County has opened its information center so residents can call in for any storm-related questions. The center is open from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8. Call 727-464-4333. The deaf or those hard of hearing can chat online at bit.ly/PinellasChat.
NHC has issued a tropical storm warning for south Florida from Golden Beach to Chokoloskee, including Florida Bay, as well as for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for the Florida east coast from north of Sebastian Inlet to the Brevard/Volusia county line. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the west coast from north of Bonita Beach to Englewood.
A tropical storm warning also is in effect for the Cayman Islands and several provinces in Cuba. The center of Eta is expected to approach the Cayman Islands Saturday afternoon and be near central Cuba by Saturday night and Sunday. Eta is then forecast to move near the Florida Keys or south Florida by Sunday night and Monday.
Saturday morning an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft reported that maximum sustained winds had increased to 50 mph. NHC said a special advisory might be required.
At 11 a.m., Eta was 30 miles north-northwest of the Grand Cayman Island. It was moving east-northeast at 17 mph.
The storm is expected to make a series of turns to head northward, northeastward and then westward. When those turns will occur is the question. Eta is expected to continue to strengthen for the next 48 hours after which time it is likely to start to slowly weaken.
Additional storm warnings and watches are likely. Everyone is advised to stay tuned to the weather forecast.
National Weather Service is forecasting rain chances of at least 50% and windy conditions starting on Sunday and continuing through Wednesday night. Flooding in low lying areas is possible. Rip currents are likely.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate prediction experts forecast early on that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season would be a busy one. Eta is the 28th named storm of the 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 is tied with 2005 for being the most active. It 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.