Tracking the Tropics: South Florida in cone of Eta, braces for flooding

Tracking the Tropics

This story is no longer being updated. The latest forecast track is available here.

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Eta, the 28th named storm of a rather active hurricane season, may have set its sights on Florida after making landfall in Central America.

Eta was downgraded to a tropical storm overnight after making landfall in Nicaragua Tuesday as a Category 4 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center.

At 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, Eta had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and was bringing “life-threatening flash flooding” over portions of Central America. The storm was centered about 135 miles north-northeast of Managua, Nicaragua and moving to the west at 7 mph.

Eta is forecast to weaken over land and become a tropical depression Wednesday night. The latest forecast track shows Eta crossing Honduras Wednesday and Thursday, then emerging over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.

The storm is expected to regain strength as it moves back into the Caribbean Sea, over Cuba and then toward South Florida.

“Parts of Tampa Bay are in the cone – but there’s a higher than normal degree of uncertainty long-range with this,” Max Defender 8 Meteorologist Ian Oliver said.

Although it’s too soon to tell exactly what impact the storm will have on the Sunshine State, forecasters in Miami say wind and rain impacts including flooding are possible.

The storm is expected to dump about 15 to 25 inches of rain on much of Nicaragua and Honduras, with some areas seeing isolated amounts of 40 inches. Water levels along the coasts should gradually decrease on Wednesday.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • The coast of Nicaragua from the Honduras/Nicaragua border to
    Sandy Bay Sirpi

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • The northeastern coast of Honduras from Punta Patuca to the
    Honduras/Nicaragua border
  • The coast of Nicaragua from south of Sandy Bay Sirpi to Laguna
    de Perlas.

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