Ominous clouds associated with Eta loom off the coast of Placencia, Belize, on Wednesday morning, November 4, 2020. (Image credit: Courtesy Robin McCutcheon)

Even as it weakened to tropical depression status, former Category 4 Hurricane Eta continued bringing misery to Central America with torrential rain, flooding, and landslides. The Associated Press had tallied at least 13 deaths by midday Thursday, November 5: seven in Honduras, four in Guatemala, and two in Nicaragua. Washed-out roads left more than 40 communities in Honduras inaccessible.

Among the villages hit by landslides in northern Guatemala was Los Trigales, where at least four people died and two others remained missing.

The center of the diffuse circulation of Tropical Depression Eta was located in northwest Honduras at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, November 5, according to the National Hurricane Center. Top sustained winds were down to 30 mph, and the center of Eta was mostly devoid of convection (showers and thunderstorms). Eta’s heaviest inland rains had pushed north into eastern Guatemala and Belize.

A large cluster of intense convection was located offshore in the Northwest Caribbean, where Eta is expected to move on Friday en route to a potential path across Cuba this weekend and across or near Florida early next week.

Figure 1. Visible satellite image of Tropical Depression Eta at 1705Z (12:05 p.m. EDT) Thursday, November 5. (Image credit: tropicaltidbits.com)

Forecast for Eta

The core of Eta’s circulation will work its way offshore on Thursday night, drifting north and then northeastward. An upper-level trough moving across the eastern Gulf of Mexico is then expected to pull Eta northeastward at a faster pace on Friday and Saturday. Models generally agree that Eta will reconsolidate and re-intensify around a more well-defined center as it heads toward Cuba. It’s possible that Eta will be classified as a remnant low before it moves offshore; if this were to happen, NHC policy is generally to reuse the previous name as long as the re-intensified storm can be traced back to its original incarnation.

There is plenty of warm water on hand for Eta, with sea surface temperatures of 29°C (84°F) running 0.5-1.0°C above average for this time of year and oceanic heat content very supportive of strengthening. On the other hand, wind shear will be increasing, and the atmosphere around Eta – currently very moist – will become steadily drier.

Overall, conditions do not favor anything like a repeat of Eta’s breakneck intensification to Category 4 strength before it reached Nicaragua. Assuming that Eta follows the NHC-predicted track toward western Cuba, it is much more likely to be a tropical storm rather than a hurricane when it arrives there on Sunday.

Figure 2. Projected locations for Tropical Depression Eta at 12Z (7 a.m. EST) Monday, November 9, from the 12Z Thursday run of the GFS ensemble forecast system (GEFS). The higher two-digit numbers denote pressures in the 9XX-mb range (e.g., 92 = 992 mb), whereas lower two-digit numbers denote pressures in the 10XX-mb range (e.g., 06 = 1006 mb). Most of the GFS ensemble members predict that Eta will be a tropical storm somewhere between Cuba and Florida on November 9. (Image credit: tropicaltidbits.com)

The forecast gets more complicated beyond this point. It appears the southern end of the upper-level trough steering Eta will break off from the jet stream and dive into the eastern Gulf. As a result, Eta (again assuming it has made it this far) will likely get pulled toward the small trough remnant, perhaps rotating around it or becoming absorbed by it. The GFS and European models suggest that such a turn would be most likely to unfold somewhere in the vicinity of South Florida on Monday and/or Tuesday. It is too soon to be confident about Eta’s trajectory or strength at this point until there is a better sense of its structure after it moves offshore on Friday. Long-range models indicate that both features will be slow to move from the weekend until later next week.

Also see: Eta’s rains plague Central America; Will Cuba and Florida be next?

The bottom line: a prolonged period of disturbed weather appears likely for South Florida, with persistent moist easterly flow and periods of heavy rain. In addition, the upcoming new moon will favor king tides in the Miami area by the end of next week (November 14-17). It’s also possible that some of Eta’s moisture will be pulled further north into the southeastern U.S. as the week unfolds.

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Posted on November 5, 2020(2:59 EST).

Bob Henson

Bob Henson is a meteorologist and journalist based in Boulder, Colorado. He has written on weather and climate for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Weather Underground, and many freelance...

52 replies on “Eta sets its sights on Cuba and Florida as deadly deluge continues”

  1. DISCUSSION AND OUTLOOK
    ———————-
    At 1200 PM CST (1800 UTC), the center of Tropical Depression Eta was
    located near latitude 17.9 North, longitude 86.9 West. The
    depression is moving toward the north-northeast near 6 mph (10
    km/h). A turn toward the northeast and a faster forward speed are
    expected this afternoon, with this motion continuing through early
    Sunday. On the forecast track, the center of Eta will move across
    the northwestern Caribbean Sea today, approach the Cayman Islands
    Saturday, and be near central or western Cuba Saturday night and
    Sunday.

    Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph (55 km/h) with higher
    gusts. Eta is forecast to become a tropical storm again this
    afternoon or tonight, with further strengthening likely through
    early Sunday.

    The estimated minimum central pressure is 1004 mb (29.65 inches).

    HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND
    ———————-
    Key messages for Eta can be found in the Tropical Cyclone Discussion
    under AWIPS header MIATCDAT4, WMO header WTNT44 KNHC, and on the
    web at http://www.hurricanes.gov/text/MIATCDAT4.shtml.

    RAINFALL: Eta is expected to produce the following rainfall
    amounts through Wednesday morning:

    Portions of Central America: An additional 5 to 10 inches (125 to
    255 mm), isolated maximum storm totals of 40 inches (1000 mm) in
    eastern Honduras and eastern Nicaragua.

    Southeastern Mexico and Jamaica: An additional 2 to 5 inches (50 to
    125 mm), isolated maximum storm totals of 15 inches (380 mm).

    The Cayman Islands into portions of Cuba: 10 to 20 inches (255 to
    510 mm), isolated maximum totals of 30 inches (760 mm).

    The Bahamas and Southern Florida, including the Keys: 5 to 10
    inches (125 to 255 mm), isolated maximum totals of 15 inches
    (380 mm).

    This rainfall will continue catastrophic, life-threatening flash
    flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of
    higher terrain of Central America. Significant, life-threatening
    flash flooding and river flooding is possible in the Cayman Islands
    and Cuba. Flash flooding and river flooding is expected for Jamaica
    and southeast Mexico. Flash and urban flooding is possible across
    the Bahamas and Southern Florida.

    WIND: Tropical storm conditions are expected in the Cayman Islands
    late Saturday and Saturday night. Tropical storm conditions are
    possible in the watch area in Cuba Saturday night and Sunday.

    SURF: Swells generated by Eta are expected to spread northeastward
    and affect the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and the southern coast of
    Cuba during the next couple of days. These swells are likely to
    cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please
    consult products from your local weather office.

  2. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #71 – 3:00 AM JST November 7 2020
    TROPICAL STORM ATSANI (T2020)
    =============================================
    Taiwan Strait

    At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Atsani (1000 hPa) located at 22.3N 119.7E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving northwest at 7 knots.

    Gale Force Winds
    =================
    120 nm from the center in northwestern quadrant
    90 nm from the center in southeastern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 22.5N 118.7E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Taiwan Strait
    24 HRS: 20.6N 116.3E – Tropical Depression in South China Sea

  3. Did the Disqus comments on WU get moved/shut down?

    All I get is a blank page.

    This has happened prior and someone gave me a new URL.

    Anyone have info on this?

    Thanks

  4. I guess we around Tampa Bay area had better keep a good eye on ETA..im thinking 60-65 MPH winds with possible higher gusts-possible water spouts and whatever else comes with a strong TS..prepare and be alert to any changes….60-65 mph winds can be trouble

  5. Hazardous Weather Outlook
    National Weather Service Melbourne FL
    402 AM EST Fri Nov 6 2020
    
    AMZ550-552-555-570-572-575-FLZ041-044>047-053-054-058-059-064-141-
    144-147-062100-
    Flagler Beach to Volusia-Brevard County Line 0-20 nm-Volusia-
    Brevard County Line to Sebastian Inlet 0-20 nm-
    Sebastian Inlet to Jupiter Inlet 0-20 nm-Flagler Beach to Volusia-
    Brevard County Line 20-60 nm-Volusia-
    Brevard County Line to Sebastian Inlet 20-60 nm-
    Sebastian Inlet to Jupiter Inlet 20-60 nm-Inland Volusia-
    Northern Lake-Orange-Seminole-Southern Brevard-Osceola-
    Indian River-Okeechobee-St. Lucie-Martin-Coastal Volusia-
    Southern Lake-Northern Brevard-
    402 AM EST Fri Nov 6 2020
    
    THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA.
    
    .DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.
    
    .RIP CURRENT IMPACT...
    Weather and ocean conditions will result in rough surf along with
    a Moderate risk of life-threatening rip currents at area beaches
    today. Use caution at the beach and always swim near a lifeguard
    if you enter the dangerous and rough surf. Do not swim alone.
    
    .WIND AND SEA IMPACT...
    East to Northeast winds 15 to 20 knots and seas of 6 to 8 feet
    will keep conditions hazardous for small craft over the local
    Atlantic waters overnight. A Small Craft Advisory continues across
    all of the local waters except near the Volusia County coast,
    where small craft operators should exercise caution.
    
    .RIVER FLOOD IMPACT...
    The Saint Johns River near Astor is expected to remain in Minor
    Flood stage through the upcoming weekend. Refer to daily Flood
    Statements from NWS Melbourne for the latest river levels and
    forecasts.
    
    .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...SATURDAY THROUGH THURSDAY.
    The combination of strong high pressure over the eastern U.S. and
    strengthening tropical cyclone Eta approaching Cuba and south Florida
    from the south will produce increasing onshore winds this weekend
    and into next week. Expect increasingly hazardous seas and surf,
    and a high risk for life-threatening rip currents. There is also
    the potential for significant beach erosion and inundation from
    coastal flooding to develop.
    
    As even windier conditions develop, very deep moisture, along with
    showers and gusty squalls will overspreading the area. There will be
    an increasing risk for torrential and locally flooding rainfall,
    as well as minor wind damage from wind gusts in squalls.
    
    Keep apprised of the latest forecasts for Tropical Cyclone Eta from
    the National Hurricane Center, as well as forecasts and statements
    from the National Weather Service in Melbourne regarding the threat
    for hazardous weather developing through this weekend and early next
    week.
    
    .SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT...
    Spotter activation will not be needed today and tonight.
    
    $$
    
    Pendergrast
    
  6. Flood Watch
    National Weather Service Miami FL
    331 AM EST Fri Nov 6 2020
    
    FLZ068-072-074-168-172-173-070000-
    /O.NEW.KMFL.FA.A.0007.201107T0000Z-201111T0000Z/
    /00000.0.ER.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.000000T0000Z.OO/
    Metro Palm Beach-Metro Broward-Metro Miami-Dade-
    Coastal Palm Beach-Coastal Broward-Coastal Miami-Dade-
    331 AM EST Fri Nov 6 2020
    
    ...FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THIS EVENING THROUGH TUESDAY
    EVENING...
    
    The National Weather Service in Miami has issued a
    
    * Flood Watch for a portion of South Florida, including the
      following areas, Coastal Broward, Coastal Miami-Dade, Coastal
      Palm Beach, Metro Broward, Metro Miami-Dade, and Metro Palm
      Beach.
    
    * From this evening through Tuesday evening
    
    * The frontal boundary over South Florida along with Tropical
      Cyclone Eta forecast by NHC to move through the Florida Straits
      and Florida Keys this weekend will help to bring the very deep
      tropical moisture into South Florida from the Caribbean Sea. The
      grounds are also still somewhat saturated from the late October
      rains over the eastern areas of South Florida. Therefore, it
      will not take much to cause flooding over the region especially
      over the east coast metro areas. At this time, it looks like 5
      to 10 inches are possible over the east coast metro areas
      tapering down to 2 to 5 inches for the west coast metro areas
      with locally higher amounts where showers and thunderstorms
      train through Tuesday. Therefore, a Flood Watch has been issued
      for the east coast metro areas from tonight through Tuesday
      evening.
    
    * Very heavy rainfall may produce flooding and/or flash flooding
      in urban locations as well as small creeks, streams, and canals.
      This is especially true for areas that recently received heavy
      rainfall.
    

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