The final month of the hurricane season has arrived, and tropical storm track forecasters Eta expect it to turn into a hurricane on Monday.
Tropical Storm Eta hit Cuba with winds of 60 mph, heavy rain and high tide on Sunday as forecasters warned the deadly storm would intensify en route to the Florida Keys.
Governor Ron DeSantis warned Floridians to stockpile the supplies for seven days. National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham said in a Facebook Live post that there is little time to waste before the storm arrives, possibly within hours.
“You’ll have to deal with Eta all week,” Graham said. “It will take a lot to get this out of here.”
Last week, Hurricane Eta passed through Central America as a Category 4 hurricane, causing deadly landslides that devastated entire villages. AccuWeather’s senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said Eta is expected to turn west in the Florida Strait between Cuba and the Florida Keys or South Florida.
Guatemala looks for the body: Eta went to Cuba, Florida
“Exactly where and when Eta takes this turning point will determine the magnitude and extent of the impact in Florida,” he said. “Despite local damage, heavy rains and some floods are likely in at least South Florida and the Florida Keys.”
The Florida Keys and the peninsula were largely protected from the burden of damage from the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, setting a record, giving birth to 28 named systems. Incredibly, no landings have occurred in the state this season. But Accuweather warns that Eta could pose a significant threat to life and property, at least interrupting daily operations and commuting by the end of the week and early next week.
Tropical storm warnings have been issued for South Florida and the Florida Keys. Forecasts predict 8-12 inch rainfall that will hit parts of South Florida. Eta’s path next weekend and beyond is uncertain. Accuweather said the most likely scenario would be that Eta would roll out of Florida and emerge in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico earlier this week, possibly strengthening into a hurricane again.
As of 10:00 ET Sunday, Eta has focused 235 miles south-southeast of Miami with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. The storm was pushing north at 12 mph.
Eta made history last week it matched the strength of Hurricane Laura, the strongest hurricane during the devastating 2020 hurricane season, with winds peaking at 150 mph. That’s just a few miles per hour short of a Category 5 hurricane.
Eta strengthens into a tropical storm: Warnings have been issued for South Florida
Eta brought death and destruction to Central America, where an estimated 100 people were buried in a landslide caused by rain in Guatemala. The new landslide forced rescue workers to delay access to 150 homes buried in mud up to 50 feet thick.
Juan Alberto Leal, the top ambulance officer in the town of Queja, told Reuters: “We are working together to have all individuals evacuated… because we cannot work there. “
Rescuers used helicopters to evacuate survivor Emilio Caal, who said he was blown several yards away by the force of the slide. He said he has lost up to 40 family members and relatives.
“My wife is dead, my grandchildren are also dead,” Caal said.
Pope Francis, speaking at St. Peter’s Square, prayed for the “many victims” of the storm that “caused immense damage, exacerbated by the already difficult situation of the pandemic.”
Eta was the 28th hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, linked to the 2005 hurricane season with the most storms on record, according to the Weather Channel. It is also the 12th storm of the season, ranking second in a year in the Atlantic.
The hurricane season officially ends on November 30.
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