Radar image of Hurricane Eta at 11:54 a.m. EST Wednesday, November 11, 2020, as the storm approached the western Florida coast. (Image credit: Mark Nissenbaum/Florida State University)

Tropical Storm Eta was bringing torrential rains, tropical storm-force winds, and a storm surge in excess of two feet to the west coast of Florida on Wednesday afternoon as it headed for an expected early Thursday morning landfall north of Tampa. Early Wednesday morning, Eta became the latest hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico in any calendar year since Hurricane Kate on November 19-21, 1985.

At 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, Eta was a tropical storm with 70 mph winds and a central pressure of 990 mb, moving north-northeast at 10 mph. According to data from NOAA, Eta brought a storm surge of 2.86 feet to Naples, Florida, during the Wednesday late morning high tide cycle, causing minor coastal flooding. Winds at Naples were as high as 30 mph, gusting to 55 mph, late Wednesday morning. Sarasota recorded sustained winds of 35 mph, gusting to 51 mph, at 11 a.m. EST Wednesday. Radar-estimated rainfall amounts over western Florida from Eta since November 8 were generally 2-4 inches, as of noon EST Wednesday.

Figure 1. GeoColor satellite image of Hurricane Eta at 10:11 a.m. EST Wednesday, November 11, shortly before it weakened to a tropical storm. (Image credit: RAMMB/CIRA/Colorado State University)

Satellite and radar images showed that Eta peaked in organization early on Wednesday morning, with a well-defined eye surrounded by an intense ring of eyewall thunderstorms. However, dry air from the west, driven into the core of the storm by moderate wind shear of 15-20 knots, destroyed Eta’s eyewall late Wednesday morning, leaving the surface circulation center exposed to view and all of Eta’s heavy thunderstorms confined to the east side of the center.

Figure 2. Predicted wind speed (colors) and sea level pressure (black lines) for Eta at 10 p.m. EST Wednesday, November 11, from the 7 a.m. (12Z) Wednesday run of the HWRF model. The model predicted Eta would make its closest approach to Tampa, Florida, as a tropical storm with 65 mph winds and a central pressure of 991 mb. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Forecast for Eta

The models are in strong agreement that Eta will make landfall north of Tampa and south of Cedar Key, Florida, on Thursday morning, and then continue to the northeast across Florida, emerging over the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday evening near the Florida/Georgia border.

Dry air should is expected to interfere with Eta’s development until landfall on Thursday morning. Eta will be moving over progressively cooler waters as it approaches the coast of Florida, which will also favor weakening. The official National Hurricane Center forecast calls for Eta to be a tropical storm with 65 mph winds near the time of landfall, but most of the intensity models predict that Eta will be weaker than that.

The primary damaging threat from Eta will be storm surge, since Tampa Bay acts to amplify storm surge during strong, persistent onshore winds. Eta could bring 3-5 feet of inundation to the bay during the Wednesday night high tide cycle, just before midnight. A three-foot storm surge at high tide would be a top-five high water event for St. Petersburg, and the highest in 24 years. Water level records there go back to 1947.

The difference between low tide and high tide is 1.5 to 2 feet, so coastal flooding will be considerably lower near low tide. Heavy rains of 2-4 inches, with isolated amounts of 6 inches, will cause additional problems for western Florida, and tropical storm-force winds will lead to considerable tree damage and power outages.

Figure 3. MODIS visible satellite image of Tropical Storm Theta on Wednesday morning, November 11. (Image credit: NASA Worldview)

Theta poses little threat to land

Tropical Storm Theta, the record-breaking 29th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, was slowly weakening on Wednesday as it moved over the waters of the northeastern Atlantic. At 10 a.m. EST Wednesday, Theta was located about 670 miles southwest of the Azores Islands, headed east-northeast at about 10 mph. Theta had top sustained winds of 60 mph, and satellite images showed the storm struggling with high wind shear, which had exposed its circulation center to view.

Theta will move east to east-northeast through the end of the week, taking the storm between the Azores Islands and Canary Islands. The only land area in Theta’s five-day cone of uncertainty is Portugal’s Madeira Island, which could experience tropical storm conditions on Sunday. High wind shear and cold waters are expected to weaken Theta to a post-tropical cyclone with 40 mph winds by Sunday.

Figure 4. Radar image of 98L at 11:35 a.m. EST November 11, as it spread heavy rains over Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. (Image credit: Weather Underground, and IBM company)

98L likely to become Tropical Storm Iota in the Caribbean this weekend

A tropical wave in the eastern Caribbean, designated 98L by NHC, was bringing heavy rains to the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic on Wednesday. A flash flood watch was posted for eastern Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where 2-4 inches of rain was predicted. Satellite imagery showed that 98L’s heavy thunderstorm activity was disorganized, but the cloud pattern at mid-levels was beginning to show some spin, and the system appeared poised to take advantage of favorable conditions for development: moderate wind shear of 10-20 knots, warm SSTs of 29 degrees Celsius (84°F), and a moist atmosphere.

The top three models for predicting tropical cyclone genesis were giving 98L strong support for development by this weekend, when the wave will likely be in the central or southwestern Caribbean, between Jamaica and Nicaragua. The wave is predicted to move west-southwestward and then westward at about 5-10 mph under the steering influence of a ridge of high pressure to its north, resulting in a potential threat to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Central America this weekend. Conditions for development will be favorable through Monday, with the SHIPS model predicting light to moderate wind shear of 5-15 knots, warm SSTs of 29-29.5 degrees Celsius (84-85°F), and a moist atmosphere with a mid-level relative humidity of 65-70%.

Figure 5. Track forecasts out to seven days for 98L from the 6Z (1 a.m. EST) Wednesday, November 11, run of the GFS ensemble model (GEFS). The black line is the mean of the 31 ensemble members; individual ensemble member forecasts are the thin lines, color-coded by the central pressure they predict for 98L, which is expected to move mostly westward. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Also see: Eta regains tropical storm status, heads for Florida after causing devastation in Central America

These conditions are very similar to what Hurricane Eta experienced in its formative stages in the Caribbean in late October, and 98L is a threat to intensify into a hurricane that will affect the same areas of the Caribbean impacted by Hurricane Eta. In particular, Nicaragua and Honduras, which were devastated by Hurricane Eta, appear at great risk of receiving heavy rains from 98L beginning on Monday. The 0Z, 6Z, and 12Z Wednesday runs of the GFS model, which showed 98L affecting Nicaragua as a hurricane on Tuesday, are quite concerning.

In a 1 p.m. EST Wednesday tropical weather outlook, NHC gave 98L two-day and five-day odds of development of 30% and 80%, respectively. The next name on the Atlantic list of storms is Iota, the ninth letter in the Greek alphabet.

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Posted on November 11, 2020(1:55pm EST).

Jeff Masters

Jeff Masters, Ph.D., worked as a hurricane scientist with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990. After a near-fatal flight into category 5 Hurricane Hugo, he left the Hurricane Hunters to pursue a...

56 replies on “Tropical Storm Eta heads toward landfall north of Tampa”

  1. Mauritius Meteorological Services
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #5 – 16:00 PM RET November 13 2020
    DEPRESSION TROPICALE 01-20202021
    ================================================
    East Northeast of Diego Garcia

    At 12:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression 01R (999 hPa) located at 6.1S 83.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving southwest at 7 knots.

    Near Gale Force Winds
    ======================
    within 130 nm radius from the center, extending up to 190 nm in the southeastern qaudrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.5/2.5/D1.0/24 HRS

    Forecast and Intensity
    ===========================
    12 HRS: 7.3S 80.8E – 40 knots (Tempête Tropicale Modérée)
    24 HRS: 9.3S 78.5E – 50 knots (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
    48 HRS: 14.0S 74.5E – 70 knots (Cyclone Tropical)
    72 HRS: 17.4S 73.6E – 60 knots (Forte Tempête Tropicale)

    Additional Information
    ===========================
    In infrared and visible imagery, the cloud pattern shows signs of improvement compared to yesterday despite warmer ir cloud tops related to the convective diurnal cycle over oceanic region. The AMSR2 imagery of 0801z suggests that the low-level circulation is beginning to consolidate. The system remains estimated at 30 kts in the high range of the available subjective Dvorak estimates (between 20-30 kts).

    Still no change in terms of forecast philosophy. Tropical Depression 01-20202021 continues to be guided by the steering flow generated by the subtropical ridge. The system should soon accelerate its southwestward movement. Under the impulse of the dynamics further south, the ridge is gradually shifting eastward and will leave a northward directed steering flow from Sunday onwards. The numerical models are in good agreement on this global trajectory. From Monday onwards, the uncertainty becomes important in relation to the weak steering flow and the existence of two possible scenarios: evacuation in the extra-tropical domain or filling up in the tropical domain north of the reconstructed low-level anticyclonic belt.

    On this track, the environmental conditions are very favorable over the next 2 days. With the help of strengthening equatorial westerly winds, the intensification of the system is expected to become soon more noticeable with a very good divergence, little shear and a very strong oceanic potential. At the beginning of next week, conditions are expected to deteriorate with insufficient oceanic potential south of 17.0S, gradually increasing shear associated with dry mid-tropospheric air intrusions.

    1. RSMC Reunion
      Tropical Cyclone Outlook – 16:00 PM RET November 13 2020
      =============================================

      During the last 24 hours, this area (93S) has not seen any clear improvement in its organization. The ASCAT data do not allow to identify a well defined surface circulation. The convective activity is locally strong but shows no real signs of organization.

      Over the next two days the strengthening of the equatorial westerly winds will induce a strengthening of the low levels vorticity within this suspect area. Thus, a much better defined circulation should potentially appear as early as tomorrow. On the other hand, the system should slowly evolve along the northern edge of the upper levels ridge and experience a persistent east-to-northeasterly constraint that could be associated with mid-levels dry air intrusion at the beginning of next week. The latest numerical guidance do not show an increasing risk of cyclogenesis for this area.

      The risk of a moderate tropical storm formation southwest of the Chagos archipelago remains moderate between Saturday and Monday.

  2. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #41 – 21:00 PM JST November 13 2020
    TYPHOON VAMCO (T2022)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 12:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Vamco (965 hPa) located at 15.5N 113.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 10 knots.

    Storm Force Winds
    ===================
    60 nm from the center

    Gale Force Winds
    =================
    210 nm from the center in northeastern quadrant
    150 nm from the center in southwestern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T5.0-

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 15.4N 111.4E – 75 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 16.0N 109.5E – 70 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 17.7N 105.4E – Tropical Depression over land Laos

  3. Mauritius Meteorological Services
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #4 – 10:00 AM RET November 13 2020
    DEPRESSION TROPICALE 01-20202021
    ===============================================
    East Northeast of Diego Garcia

    At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression 01R (999 hPa) located at 5.2S 83.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving west southwest at 7 knots.

    Near Gale Force Winds
    ======================
    within 55 nm radius from the center

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.5/2.5/D1.0/24 HRS

    Forecast and Intensity
    ===========================
    12 HRS: 6.6S 81.7E – 30 knots (Depression Tropicale)
    24 HRS: 8.4S 79.3E – 40 knots (Tempête Tropicale Modérée)
    48 HRS: 12.7S 75.0E – 70 knots (Cyclone Tropical)
    72 HRS: 16.5S 73.6E – 55 knots (Forte Tempête Tropicale)

    Additional Information
    ===========================
    The convective activity within the system is struggling to consolidate near the center. The ASCAT-B of 0408z shows a monsoon depression-like wind field structure with a broad central area of weak winds and strong winds reaching 25-30 kts at about 2 degrees from the center. The system remains analyzed with 30 kts of max winds.

    No change in terms of forecast. The Tropical Depression 01-20202021 continues to move westward, guided by the flow generated by the subtropical ridge. The system should accelerate its southwestward movement over the next 18 hours. Under the impulse of the dynamics further south, the ridge is gradually shifting eastward and will allow a northerly directional flow from Sunday onwards. The numerical models are in good agreement on this global track. Further, the uncertainty becomes more important in relation with the weak steering flow, letting the system move more slowly.

    On this track, the environmental conditions are very favorable over the next 2 days. The initial structure and lack of convergence on the equatorial side should limit the intensification today. Once this circulation is consolidated tomorrow with the help of strengthening equatorial westerly winds, the intensification of the system will be more noticeable with very good divergence, little shear and a very strong oceanic potential. From Sunday and beyond, conditions should deteriorate with a significant drop in ocean potential south of 15.0S and increasing shear.

  4. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #39 – 15:00 PM JST November 13 2020
    SEVERE TROPICAL STORM VAMCO (T2022)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 6:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Vamco (980 hPa) located at 15.4N 114.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 60 knots with gusts of 85 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 13 knots.

    Storm Force Winds
    ===================
    45 nm from the center

    Gale Force Winds
    =================
    210 nm from the center in northeastern quadrant
    150 nm from the center in southwestern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T3.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 15.6N 112.5E – 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 15.8N 110.4E – 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 17.4N 106.5E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Over land Vietnam
    72 HRS: 18.1N 103.8E – Tropical Depression over land Thailand

  5. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #37 – 9:00 AM JST November 13 2020
    SEVERE TROPICAL STORM VAMCO (T2022)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 0:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Vamco (980 hPa) located at 15.3N 115.9E has 10 minute sustained winds of 60 knots with gusts of 85 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 7 knots.

    Storm Force Winds
    ===================
    45 nm from the center

    Gale Force Winds
    =================
    210 nm from the center in northeastern quadrant
    150 nm from the center in southwestern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T3.5-

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 15.4N 113.8E – 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 15.6N 111.5E – 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 17.1N 107.4E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    72 HRS: 18.2N 104.3E – Tropical Depression over land Laos

  6. Mauritius Meteorological Services
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #3 – 4:00 AM RET November 13 2020
    DEPRESSION TROPICALE 01-20202021
    ==========================================
    East Northeast of Diego Garcia

    At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression 01R (999 hPa) located at 5.2S 85.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts of 45 knots. The depression is reported as moving west at 10 knots.

    Near Gale Force Winds
    ======================
    within 55 nm radius from the center

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.5/2.5/D1.0/12 HRS

    Forecast and Intensity
    ===========================
    12 HRS: 5.8S 83.0E – 35 knots (Tempête Tropicale Modérée)
    24 HRS: 7.4S 80.7E – 45 knots (Tempête Tropicale Modérée)
    48 HRS: 11.4S 76.0E – 75 knots (Cyclone Tropical)
    72 HRS: 15.8S 73.6E – 50 knots (Forte Tempête Tropicale)

    Additional Information
    ===========================
    The convective activity continues to strengthen around Tropical Depression 01-20202021 since the last 6 hours defining a curved band pattern. However, the last AMRS2 data from 1944UTC show that the circulation is still wide. By Dvorak analysis of 2.5, the maximum winds are then estimated at 30 kts quite far from the center and mainly in the southern semicircle.

    No change in terms of forecast. The Tropical Depression 01-20202021 continues to move westward, guided by the flow generated by the subtropical ridge. The system should accelerate its southwestward movement over the next 18 hours. Under the impulse of the dynamics further south, the ridge is gradually shifting eastward and will allow a northerly directional flow from Sunday onwards. The numerical models are in good agreement on this global track. Further, the uncertainty becomes more important in relation with the weak steering flow, letting the system move more slowly.

    On this track, the environmental conditions are very favorable over the next 2 days. The circulation near the center is not yet solidly established and therefore the intensification is not really frank before the next 12 hours. Once this circulation is more concentrated and thanks to a very good divergence, little shear and a very strong oceanic potential, the intensification of the system will be more noticeable from Saturday. At the end of the weekend, however, conditions should deteriorate with a significant drop in ocean potential south of 15.0S and a significant increase of the west northwesterly shear, leading to an important weakening phase of the intensity of the system which will have reached the threshold of a tropical cyclone.

  7. Dear Jeff,
    
    Again from Nicaragua.
    
    I am the coordinator of the Emergency Operations Center of the Federation of Fire Brigades of Nicaragua.
    
    I have 2 questions for you:
    
    1.- What will be the probable impact of 98L Invest and in what category.
    
    2.- Do you have any signs of another possible disturbance behind the 98L INVEST? Kappa?
    
    Your response is valuable to the decision making of our fire departments.
    
  8. 2020 Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE)
    https://tropical.colostate.edu/archive.html#tc_stat

    · This year’s current total ACE of 165.2 (as of November 12, 1600 UTC), means 2020 is now in the top 20 all-time highest ACE totals (going back to 1851); just behind 2010 [165.5] and ahead of 1955 [164.7].

    · Hurricane Eta’s current total ACE of 17.6 is the 2nd highest storm value this year, ahead of Hurricane Paulette [15.9] and behind Hurricane Teddy [27.8].

    · The August CSU forecast predicted the total ACE for 2020 would be 200. https://tropical.colostate.edu/forecasting.html

    · There are 8 years with an ACE value of 200 or more.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bdc45957f9d19f26d1e4c9262f0234ebae552d89c7d083ed00583c29e9ea9ea3.jpg?w=600&h=521

      1. Glad to be of help.
        As long as there’s TC activity, I have it in mind to post these updates every day around this time. Curious to see if 2020 can gain another 17 points to make it into the top ten.

  9. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #33 – 21:00 PM JST November 12 2020
    SEVERE TROPICAL STORM VAMCO (T2022)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 12:00 PM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Vamco (980 hPa) located at 15.1N 117.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 60 knots with gusts of 85 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 10 knots.

    Storm Force Winds
    ===================
    40 nm from the center

    Gale Force Winds
    =================
    270 nm from the center in northeastern quadrant
    150 nm from the center in southwestern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T3.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 15.4N 115.4E – 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 15.5N 113.4E – 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 16.3N 109.5E – 55 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    72 HRS: 17.8N 105.8E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Over land Vietnam

  10. Mauritius Meteorological Services
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #1 – 16:00 PM RET November 12 2020
    PERTURBATION TROPICALE 01-20202021
    ==============================================
    East Northeast of Diego Garcia

    At 12:00 PM UTC, Tropical Disturbance 01R (1002 hPa) located at 4.6S 87.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts of 35 knots. The disturbance is reported as moving west at 2 knots.

    Dvorak Intensity: T1.5/1.5/D1.0/24 HRS

    Forecast and Intensity
    ===========================
    12 HRS: 5.1S 85.6E – 35 knots (Tempête Tropical Modérée)
    24 HRS: 5.7S 82.9E – 40 knots (Tempête Tropical Modérée)
    48 HRS: 8.8S 78.4E – 60 knots (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
    72 HRS: 14.1S 74.6E – 70 knots (Cyclone Tropical)

    Additional Information
    ===========================
    In the last 24 hours, convective activity has increased significantly around 01-20202021, with cold cloud tops and signs of curvature. The latest microwave images such as the SSMIS 1018z and satellite images show an improvement of the inner core. 0200z SCATSAT swath and this morning ASCAT swath show that the lower level circulation was quite wide with a large area of light winds, but with stronger winds in the southern semicircle far from the center. The intensity is therefore set to 25 kts which is perhaps a little conservative.

    The disturbance is currently moving slowly to the west. It should accelerate west and then southwest on the northwestern side of the subtropical ridge. At longer range, north of a trough, the steering flow should weaken as bending southward. The numerical models are in very good agreement until Sunday on the track. Further, the uncertainty becomes more important in relation with the weak steering flow and the rate of weakening of the system.

    On this track, environmental conditions are very favorable for development until Sunday with a very good divergence, little shear and a very strong oceanic potential. At the end of the weekend, however, conditions should deteriorate with a significant drop in ocean potential south of 15.0S and a significant increase of the west northwesterly shear, leading to an important weakening phase. Consequently, the intensity forecast for the beginning of next week remains rather uncertain.

  11. I live about 50 miles south of Jacksonville on the Atlantic coast of FL. We are getting continuous mild-to-moderate rain and nothing more than relatively unremarkable breezes, even though NHC’s cone graphic shows us well within the “tropical storm strength” wind area.
    The storm is fizzling in a major way. I’m guessing that by late afternoon we’ll have cloudy skies and just about nothing else to mark the storm’s passing. I’m glad this turned out to be more or less just a rainy, blustery inconvenience for most people along the length of Florida and that it didn’t make a return trip to the Central American places already hard hit by its earlier incarnation.

  12. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #31 – 15:00 PM JST November 12 2020
    SEVERE TROPICAL STORM VAMCO (T2022)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 6:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Vamco (980 hPa) located at 15.2N 118.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 60 knots with gusts of 85 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 14 knots.

    Storm Force Winds
    ===================
    40 nm from the center

    Gale Force Winds
    =================
    270 nm from the center in northeastern quadrant
    150 nm from the center in southwestern quadrant

    Dvorak Intensity: T4.0

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 15.3N 116.2E – 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 15.2N 114.2E – 70 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 16.0N 110.5E – 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    72 HRS: 17.6N 106.5E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Over land Vietnam

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