08 November 2020

Eta has crossed Cuba, hurricane conditions possible in south Florida tonight

So far, forecasts of Eta's evolution over the western Caribbean and into Cuba have been very good. The center crossed over central Cuba on Sunday morning, and it's back over water -- roughly 220 miles south-southeast of Miami as of 10am on Sunday.  It has intensified to a strong tropical storm, and it's forecast to attain Category 1 hurricane status as it passes between Florida and Cuba.

Tropical storm warnings, storm surge warnings, flood warnings, and/or hurricane warnings are plastered over south Florida, the western Bahamas, and Cuba.  Eta's wind field is asymmetric, with the bulk of the wind and rain displaced to the east and north of the center. As it turns toward the west during Sunday, the area of tropical storm force winds will extend far to the north (as indicated by the tropical storm warnings outlined in blue on the map below).

All of south Florida is also under a hurricane watch (the pink outline), meaning that hurricane conditions are possible... the extreme southern tip of Florida is under a hurricane warning, meaning that hurricane conditions are expected. I have several long and updating radar loops of Eta available at http://bmcnoldy.rsmas.miami.edu/tropics/radar/

In south Florida, the strongest winds will occur on Sunday evening into Monday morning, with gusts in the 50-70 mph range (stronger in the Keys) -- quite capable of causing significant damage to trees. Along with the wind, several inches of rain on top of already-saturated ground will result in widespread flooding.

The four hazards associated with tropical cyclones are summarized in this "Hurricane Threats and Impacts" graphic for south Florida (which has been produced routinely for every tropical cyclone affecting the U.S. since 2015). 

Beyond Monday, the storm will continue to become more asymmetric (losing its purely tropical cyclone characteristics and look) and very gradually turn back in toward Florida throughout the week. This lingering feature in its substantial envelope of moisture will keep rain chances up in the entire region.  It's not expected to become a strong hurricane in the eastern Gulf of Mexico -- one advantage of a November storm!

The last time south Florida had a tropical storm encounter during November was in 1998... Mitch passed over the area on November 5th.

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