Pinellas now outside Tropical Storm Eta’s forecast cone

Pinellas County and much of the peninsula of Florida was outside Tropical Storm Eta’s forecast cone on Tuesday morning. Eta is forecast to become a depression before it makes landfall on Sunday. However, the forecast is still uncertain.

Rainy and breezy conditions are possible in Pinellas County and parts of Tampa Bay the remainder of this week, but foul weather is not as likely as predicted earlier.

National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast cone shows Tropical Storm Eta tracking well off the west coast of Florida. Eta is expected to weaken to a depression before it reaches a spot near the border of Florida and Alabama by Sunday.

NHC canceled all tropical storm watches and warnings on Monday except for several Cuban provinces. Those same watches are the only ones in effect as of Tuesday morning.

Eta was about 60 miles northwest of the western tip of Cuba and moving south at 5 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 60 mph.

NHC says Eta remained stationary most of the night but has been drifting southward this morning. It is expected to become stationary again later today before starting to move slowly northward tonight through Thursday.

National Weather Service forecast for Pinellas County calls for 40%-50% chances of rain today through Thursday with breezy conditions and wind gusts as high as 24 mph.

NHC says the storm’s long-range forecast remains uncertain and residents along the Gulf Coast are advised to stay tuned to the weather.

Busy season

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.