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. Did my latest update on Eta and the Atlantic tropics at this link. This will be a problem for the Cayman Islands, Cuba, western Bahamas, and southern half of the Florida peninsula including the Florida Keys over the next few days. I hope everyone in the path of this storm is getting ready. The only thing I’m optimistic about is that it may struggle to regain hurricane strength as I explain in the update, but strong tropical storm conditions is nothing to ignore.

    Some of the long range model runs eerily suggest the season is still not over, perhaps another repeat of development in the Caribbean in the wake of Eta.

  2. clipped from NHC 3am disc………
    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 flooding is possible across the Bahamas
    and Southern Florida.

  3. I miss the old blog. This one is so slow. Does anyone know a blog like the last one?

    Eta is gonna go right over mi casa

    1. Agreed! If you find one let me know! I love the bloggers and all of the old crew! I miss Cat 6 immensely!

  4. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #67 – 15:00 PM JST November 6 2020
    SEVERE TROPICAL STORM ATSANI (T2020)
    =============================================
    Bashi Channel

    At 6:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Atsani (996 hPa) located at 21.3N 120.9E has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts of 70 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 10 knots.

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

    Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 21.9N 119.6E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 22.2N 118.5E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 17.9N 112.9E – Tropical Depression in South China Sea

  5. Thank You for the Update and nice seeing in on the YCC action Mr. Henson. Conditions are going to be relatively hostile for Eta downstream on the other side of Cuba not to mention the actual land interaction with Cuba on the way towards Florida and/or the Eastern Gulf. I would not hang my hat on any models, in terms of a more concrete picture, until after the Cuban interaction to see what shape the circulation is in as well as tilt/dry air factors .

  6. well Flooding might be an issue when and IF eta brings tropical rains down in south Florida huh..and its full moon time so tides will be higher too i assume

  7. Thu Nov 5 2020

    …HAZARDOUS MARINE/BEACH CONDITIONS…
    …ISOLATED FLOODING POSSIBLE EAST COAST…

    This hazardous weather outlook is for South Florida.

    .DAY ONE…TODAY AND TONIGHT

    Rip currents: A high risk of rip currents remains in effect for all
    Atlantic beaches.

    Wind: Breezy east-northeasterly winds continue, creating hazardous
    boating conditions over the local waters. Wind gusts of 25 to 30 mph
    will be possible, especially across the east coast of South Florida.

    Waves: Seas will range from 5 to 8 feet over the Atlantic waters,
    with lower wave heights forecast across the remaining local waters.

    Flooding: Isolated urban/street flooding will be possible across the
    east coast metros.

    Thunderstorms: Thunderstorms return to the forecast today…when
    thunder roars, go indoors.

    Waterspouts: Can`t rule out an isolated waterspout over the Atlantic
    waters.

    .DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN…FRIDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY

    Breezy conditions will continue through the week. Hazardous marine
    conditions could briefly subside on Friday before deteriorating once
    again this weekend.

    Tropical Cyclone Eta over Honduras is forecast by the National
    Hurricane Center to move back into the NW Caribbean Sea late this
    week. The system is then forecast to move northward into the Florida
    Straits or the SE Gulf of Mexico this weekend. Marine conditions will
    gradually deteriorate once again going into this weekend, and heavy
    rainfall concerns continue to grow.

    .SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT…

    Spotter activation will not be needed.

    For more information…visit the National Weather Service in
    Miami website at http://www.weather.gov/miami.

    $$

  8. OK, I am perplexed. NHC shifted compared to their previous runs. Now slower and sooner / sharper left hand turn (now over Cuba). While the latest 18Z GFS has shifted north and turn into SE Florida.

    1. Thank you Dr. Master for 16 wonderful years and the new home. Thank you Mr. Hanson for the clear update!

      Has whats left of any COC moved over H2O yet?

  9. well for myself im going to prepare as i would for a Tropical Storm coming to my area..this way im ready and things that could blow around outside taken inside..we’ve had several TS’s here and besides one time roofing material came off, we made out ok..hopefully this time also huh

    1. Where in FL are you? I’m up here in the bustling metropolis of Fort White having moved here about eight years ago from Sarasota. Since moving here we’ve been affected by more tropical systems than the decades we lived down there. When I say decades Donna was on my birthday in 1960.

      1. I was living in NY and somehow i remember Donna from back then.i just turned 71 today lol man ive seen alot of them..we moved down here around 84-85 and love it here

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