GeoColor satellite image of Tropical Storm Eta at 10:30 a.m. EST Sunday, November 8, 2020. (Image credit: RAMMB/CIRA/Colorado State University)

A hurricane warning and a storm surge warning are up for the Florida Keys as Tropical Storm Eta gathers strength over the warm waters of the Florida Straits. Eta made landfall in south-central Cuba early Sunday morning with 65 mph winds, and emerged from its traverse of Cuba late on Sunday morning relatively intact, with a solid core of heavy thunderstorms. Eta’s spiral bands were spreading heavy rains over South Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba. Eta is expected to pass through the Florida Keys on Sunday evening as a strong tropical storm or category 1 hurricane.

Figure 1. Radar image of Tropical Storm Eta at 10 a.m. EST November 8. (Image credit: INSMET)

At 10 a.m. EST Sunday, November 8, Eta was a tropical storm with 65 mph winds and a central pressure of 993 mb, headed north at 14 mph. Tropical storm-force winds from Eta were already affecting the Florida Keys, with sustained winds of 46 mph, gusting to 53 mph, observed at Fowey Rocks. Wind shear was a high 20 – 30 knots over Eta, but the storm was over very warm waters of 29 degrees Celsius (84°F). Some dry air was wrapping toward the center of Eta from the southwest.

Forecast for Eta

The counterclockwise flow of air around a trough of low pressure to its west will steer Eta in a curving arc through the Florida Keys on Sunday, and then into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Monday. The southern end of the upper-level trough is detaching from the jet stream and forming a closed low over the southeastern Gulf, and this low is expected to merge with Eta on Monday. During this process, wind shear will fall from the high range to the moderate range, potentially allowing Eta to intensify into a category 1 hurricane as it passes through the Florida Keys on Sunday evening.

It’s more likely though that Eta would reach hurricane strength on Monday. However, there is also dry air associated with the trough, and that dry air will potentially wrap into the core of Eta and put the brakes on any rapid intensification.

Figure 2. Track forecasts out to seven days for Eta from the 6Z (1 a.m. EST) Sunday, November 8, 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 Eta. After curving west into the Gulf of Mexico, the long-term motion of Eta was highly uncertain. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Steering currents will be weak once Eta merges with the upper level trough, and it’s not yet clear whether Eta’s long-range path might end up closer to the west coast of Florida, as suggested by the GFS model; more to the north towards the Florida Panhandle, as predicted by the European model; or to the southwest towards Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, as predicted by the UKMET model. Eventually – maybe not until late in the week – the approach of a new upper-level trough may push Eta inland over the Florida Gulf Coast.

Figure 3. Observed precipitation for the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m. EST Sunday, November 8, 2020. (Image credit: NOAA)

The main threats from Eta: Torrential rains and floods

Regardless of the exact track of Eta’s center, the storm will bring heavy rains, strong winds, and storm surge flooding well to the east of its center, resulting in several days of squally weather and locally torrential rain for South Florida and the Bahamas. One-day rainfall amounts of 1-3 inches, with a few areas of 3-5 inches, occurred in the 24 hours ending at 7 a.m. EST Sunday over South Florida (Figure 3). Storm-total rainfall amounts of 6-12″, with some isolated areas of up to 18″, could fall in the coastal cities of South Florida from Fort Myers and Naples to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, where soils are largely saturated from late-October rains. Tornadoes will also be possible in Eta’s rainbands.

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

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Posted on November 8, 2020(12:55pm 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...

36 replies on “Tropical Storm Eta strengthens on approach to Florida Keys”

  1. well we have maybe 5-6 days with this TS out in the gulf…no for certain track for it this morning..NHC is saying it may go to a cat-1 hurricane for a day or so out in the gulf..

  2. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #11 – 15:00 PM JST November 9 2020
    TROPICAL STORM ETAU (T2021)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Etau (992 hPa) located at 13.0N 112.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 14 knots.

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

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 12.8N 110.5E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 12.7N 109.1E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Over land Vietnam
    48 HRS: 12.4N 106.4E – Tropical Depression over land Cambodia

    ——————————————————————————-

    Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #7 – 15:00 PM JST November 9 2020
    TROPICAL STORM VAMCO (T2022)
    =============================================
    Sea East of the Philippines

    At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Vamco (1002 hPa) located at 11.6N 130.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west northwest at 9 knots.

    Gale Force Winds
    =================
    210 nm from the center

    Dvorak Intensity: T1.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    24 HRS: 14.4N 128.2E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    48 HRS: 14.9N 124.7E – 75 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) Sea East of the Philippines
    72 HRS: 15.0N 119.7E – 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea

  3. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #9 – 9:00 AM JST November 9 2020
    TROPICAL STORM ETAU (T2021)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Storm Etau (996 hPa) located at 13.1N 113.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 60 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 16 knots.

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

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 12.7N 111.5E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 12.5N 110.0E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 12.7N 107.2E – Tropical Depression over land Cambodia

    ———————————————————————————–

    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #5 – 9:00 PM JST November 9 2020
    TROPICAL DEPRESSION 25
    =============================================
    Sea East of the Philippines

    At 0:00 AM UTC, Tropical Depression (1006 hPa) located at 11.5N 131.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots. The depression is reported as moving northwest at 9 knots.

    Dvorak Intensity: T1.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    24 HRS: 13.7N 128.6E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    48 HRS: 14.5N 126.1E – 60 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    72 HRS: 14.7N 121.5E – 70 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) Over land Quezon province (Luzon/Philippines)

  4. Hi Jeff, Well this lobster scientist is heading up north in a few days to visit parents in Dayton for an extended stay (our office has been in lockdown for covid since March). Looks like a close center on hit here but the dry air is doing a nice job to “pump the brakes”. Will try to contact you later perhaps via snail mail to catch up. – take care

  5. Japan Meteorological Agency
    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #7 – 3:00 AM JST November 9 2020
    TROPICAL STORM ETAU (T2021)
    =============================================
    South China Sea

    At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Storm Etau (998 hPa) located at 13.0N 115.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 35 knots with gusts of 50 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 15 knots.

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

    Dvorak Intensity: T2.0

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    12 HRS: 12.9N 113.1E – 40 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    24 HRS: 12.9N 110.7E – 45 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) South China Sea
    48 HRS: 12.9N 107.0E – Tropical Depression over land Cambodia

    ——————————————————————————–

    Tropical Cyclone Advisory #3 – 3:00 AM JST November 9 2020
    TROPICAL DEPRESSION 25
    =============================================
    Sea East of the Philippines

    At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Depression (1006 hPa) located at 10.2N 132.7E has 10 minute sustained winds of 30 knots. The depression is reported as moving northwest at 9 knots.

    Dvorak Intensity: T1.5

    Forecast and Intensity
    =========================
    24 HRS: 13.4N 129.6E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    48 HRS: 14.3N 126.9E – 50 knots (CAT 2/Severe Tropical Storm) Sea East of the Philippines
    72 HRS: 14.2N 123.0E – 65 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) Sea East of the Philippines

  6. The Yucatan really doesn’t need another storm this season! We are saturated & enjoying todays’ sunny weather!

  7. It would be interesting if ETA crosses the Keys at Cudjoe Key – which was the 2017 landfall location of Irma. Needless to say, we wish neither would visit. Sea levels look to be about a foot over normal tides already…

  8. It’s really something to see such widely divergent track forecasts for 72-120 hours. For the sake of those who endured this storm last week, I hope the UKMET track doesn’t play out.

    It’s always interesting to look at the NHC graphics archive to see all the 5-day track forecast graphics gathered in a slide show for each storm. Eta’s is pretty unique.

Comments are closed.