09 November 2020

Eta brushes by Florida, now watching for Theta and Iota this week

After crossing over central Cuba, Tropical Storm Eta made the anticipated west turn and brushed by south Florida late Sunday night.  The center made landfall in the middle Keys, but the storm's large wind and rain shield extended far to the north. And just to keep the season going at record-crushing pace, there are TWO other features of interest in the Atlantic right now; the next two names on the list are Theta and Iota and they'd be the 29th and 30th named storms of the season.

Regarding Eta, the two-panel image below shows the approximate size of the tropical storm wind field as it crossed the Keys and the estimated two-day rainfall totals over south Florida.

The storm is poorly organized now and is centered just north of the western tip of Cuba. Its future is amazingly uncertain as its about to enter an area of weak steering currents. Depending on what subtle features nudges it next, it could go northeast toward Florida, nowhere, north toward the central Gulf coast, or southwest toward the Yucatan! The official NHC forecast opts for something slow and north, but be alert for changes as the days go by. It appears very unlikely that it will regain hurricane intensity in the Gulf.

Shifting our attention way east to near the Azores, a well-developed low pressure system could acquire subtropical or even tropical chatacteristics in the coming day or two.  If it does, it would earn the name Theta, the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet. Regardless of development, it's forecast to pass south of the Azores on Thursday-Friday.

Finally, there's a late-season tropical wave near the Lesser Antilles that the National Hurricane Center is giving a 50% probability of becoming a tropical cyclone later this week. There's not tremendous model support for this, but among the ones that do develop it, they track it westward into Central America in about a week -- unfortunately right where Eta just made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. Should this also become a tropical storm, it would be named Iota (assuming the one near the Azores becomes Theta).

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