06 November 2020

With Eta back over water, threat to Cuba and Florida increases

Tropical Depression Eta has re-emerged over the very warm water of the western Caribbean and is fully expected to strengthen back to a tropical storm later today.  It's centered about 60 miles east of Belize and 120 miles north of Honduras. The bulk of the thunderstorm activity associated with it is displaced to the east of the center as of this writing and satellite image below.

Model guidance continues to show the storm tracking northeast toward Cuba, reaching the island on Saturday-Sunday. Beyond that, some impact in south Florida is basically inevitable on Sunday-Monday. The hazards definitely include heavy rain with widespread flooding, and could include sustained tropical storm force winds (even a slim shot at hurricane force winds). Always check https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_at4.shtml?start#contents for the most recent information.

In this map, track forecasts from several dynamical models, ensemble means, consensus, and the NHC are shown. Keep in mind that these evolve with each new run, and that these are only the center lines of the track... impacts extend quite far from the center.

Tropical storm force winds could arrive in south Florida by Sunday evening, even if the center of the storm remains well south -- it is a large circulation and the stronger portion of it will the northern half. At this point, given the normal uncertainty in intensity forecasts 2-3 days in advance, a low-end hurricane cannot be ruled out in south Florida either.  For perspective, Irma in September 2017 produced "only" upper-end tropical storm conditions in the urban corridor of southeast Florida.

Beyond Monday, Eta is forecast to enter the Gulf of Mexico where environmental conditions are unlikely to nurture intensification, but given the large number of tropical cyclone landfalls along the Gulf coast this year, this is certainly not welcome news.

The official hurricane season ends on November 30, but active years like this don't always respect that artificial bound, so stay tuned.  Elsewhere across the basin, there is no hint of new activity in the foreseeable future... but if and when the time comes, the next name on the list is Theta.

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