Flooding reported as Tropical Storm Eta brings wind and rain to Pinellas

At 10 p.m. Wednesday, Eta was about 55 miles northwest of St. Petersburg and 95 miles west-northwest of Tampa. It was moving north at 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 65 mph. Pinellas County remains under a tropical storm warning and storm surge warning. A flood warning also has been issued and is in effect until 11:45 p.m.

Tropical Storm Eta was continuing on its northward path Wednesday night as it moves near or just offshore the west-central coast of Florida, including Pinellas County during the overnight hours.

Eta is then expected to travel inland over the northern portion of the Florida peninsula Thursday morning before moving northeastward into the western Atlantic late Thursday or early Friday.

At 10 p.m. Wednesday, Eta was about 55 miles northwest of St. Petersburg and 95 miles west-northwest of Tampa. It was moving north at 12 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 65 mph.

Pinellas County remains under a tropical storm warning, storm surge warning and flash flood watch. A flood warning also has been issued and is in effect until 11:45 p.m. County Emergency Management has received multiple reports of flooding along the barrier islands due to storm surge, high tide and heavy rainfall.

Numerous parts of the County are susceptible to flooding, including coastal areas along the Anclote River, Crystal Beach, Ozona, coastal Palm Harbor, Oldsmar along upper Tampa Bay, Cross Bayou Pinellas Park, Mariner's Cove Mobile Home Park, coastal Gulfport, Shore Acres, Tierra Verde, the Pass-a-Grille area and Bay Pines.

Courtney Campbell Causeway was closed in both directions, as was Duhme Road in Seminole between American Legion Drive and the Tom Stuart Causeway. Residents are strongly advised to stay off the roadways, and not drive through standing water under any circumstance.

Information about road closures and hazards can be found at

https://pinellas-egis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=7d0f388c04c5490e8573b072f54a5199

The map will be updated throughout the night.

A high surf advisory remains in effect through 1 p.m. Nov. 12 and a rip current statement until 7 a.m. Nov. 13.

Pinellas County commissioners declared a local state of emergency Wednesday morning as then Hurricane Eta moved offshore the west coast of Florida. Eta has since weakened back to a tropical storm.

The county activated its Emergency Operations Center and the information center is open so residents can call in for any storm-related questions. Call 727-464-4333. The deaf or those hard of hearing can chat online at bit.ly/PinellasChat.

Two emergency shelters were opened: Ross Norton Recreation Complex, 1426 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Clearwater and Lealman Exchange, 5175 45th St. N. in St. Petersburg. COVID-19 rapid testing was available at both shelters. Hotels were made available for residents in need of shelter that test positive for COVID-19.

Masks will be required inside shelters. Masks, gloves and hand sanitizer will be available. Social distancing will be required. For more information, visit https://www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/shelters.htm.

Rain and wind are expected to continue on Thursday morning with conditions improving by afternoon. Pinellas County schools will be closed on Thursday.

Conditions should be improved by Friday with sunny skies forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

Record-breaking season

The 29th named storm of the season formed early Tuesday morning. 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.