Tropical Storm Eta Organizing In The Gulf of Mexico

Eta’s path of destruction continues in the Atlantic Basin. After making landfalls on Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane, then on Cuba and the Florida Keys at tropical storm strength, Eta is now gradually reorganizing in the Gulf of Mexico.

With the formation of Eta, 2020 tied 2005’s record for the most number of tropical storms at 28. It has not broken the number of tropical depressions, which is at 28 for 2020 while in 2005, 31 tropical depressions formed.

Eta has become the earliest 28th named storm in Atlantic history, edging out 2005’s version of Zeta which formed on December 30th. This is the first time Eta has been used in Atlantic history.

This tropical cyclone is not forecast to directly impact Trinidad, Tobago, or the Lesser Antilles. The tropical wave did produce floods, gusty winds, and landslides across parts of Barbados, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia.

List of names for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. The next named tropical cyclone will be called Iota
List of Greek names for the Atlantic Hurricane Season. The next named tropical cyclone will be called Iota

At 11:00 PM AST, the center of Tropical Storm Eta was located near latitude 23.2 North, longitude 85.2 West. Eta is moving toward the southwest near 9 mph (15 km/h), and this motion with a reduction in forward speed is expected tonight. Little overall motion is forecast on Tuesday and a slow northward motion is expected Tuesday night and Wednesday. On the forecast track, the center of Eta will remain over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico tonight through Wednesday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts. Some strengthening will be possible tonight and Tuesday. Gradual weakening is expected to begin by late Wednesday and then continue through the end of the week.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles (185 km) from the center. The estimated minimum central pressure is 995 millibars.

Tropical Storm Eta Forecast Track as of 11:00 PM AST Monday 9th November 2020. (National Hurricane Center)

Watches & Warnings

Tropical Storm Eta Watches and Warnings as of 11:00 PM AST Monday 9th November 2020. (National Hurricane Center)

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • The Cuban provinces of La Habana, Artemisa, Mayabeque, Pinar del Rio, and the Isle of Youth

A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, in this case within 36 hours.

Interests along the Gulf Coast of Florida should monitor the progress of Eta.

For storm information specific to your area, please monitor products issued by your national meteorological service.

Hazards Affecting Land

Tropical Storm Eta probabilities for tropical-storm-force winds as of 11:00 PM AST Monday 9th November 2020, as well as the most likely time of arrival of tropical-storm-force winds. (National Hurricane Center)

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

  • The Bahamas: An additional 1 to 2 inches (25 to 50 mm), with isolated maximum storm totals of 15 inches (380 mm).
  • Portions of Cuba: an additional 3 to 5 inches (75 to 125 mm), isolated maximum storm total accumulations of 25 inches (635 mm).
  • Portions of the central and southern Florida peninsula, including the Keys: an additional 1 to 3 inches (25 to 75 mm), with isolated maximum storm totals of 18 inches (450 mm) in South Florida.

Flash and river flooding will be possible in Cuba, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain. Additional flash and urban flooding, especially across previously inundated areas, will be possible in South Florida tonight. Flash and urban flooding will also be possible for the Bahamas and the remainder of southern and eastern Florida over the next several days.

WIND: Gusty conditions will continue across the Florida Keys, south and central Florida, and the northwestern Bahamas tonight. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the Tropical Storm Watch area in Cuba tonight and Tuesday.

SURF: Swells generated by Eta are expected to affect the north coast of Cuba, the northwestern Bahamas, southern Florida, and the Florida Keys during the next day or so. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Please consult products from your local weather office.

This system is of no direct threat to the Windward Islands, including Trinidad and Tobago.

Tropical Storm Eta Forecast Discussion

Tropical Storm Eta (Weathernerds.org)

Eta’s convective structure appears to be gradually becoming better organized this evening. The center is located near the northern edge of a band that wraps around the southeastern and southern portions of the circulation. Recent subjective Dvorak data T-numbers were 3.0, which still support an initial intensity of 45 kt. With Eta’s structure gradually improving and a forecast for the cyclone to remain over SSTs of around 28C and in generally low vertical wind shear conditions, some re-strengthening is likely during the next 24-36 hours. Although the NHC intensity forecast shows Eta remaining just below hurricane strength, there is a possibility that the storm will briefly regain hurricane status over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico within the next day or so. By 48 hours, when the cyclone moves over the east-central Gulf of Mexico, increasing vertical wind shear and dry mid-level air are likely to result in weakening, and like the previous forecast, the new NHC forecast indicates that Eta could weaken to a tropical depression by the end of the period. Some of the global model guidance suggests that Eta could weaken even faster than indicated below after 72 hours.

Recent satellite fixes indicate that Eta is moving southwestward but a little slower than before at around 8 kt. Eta should slow its forward progress overnight and then meander over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday as steering current collapse. In 36-48 hours, Eta should begin moving northward between a mid-level ridge over the western Atlantic and a broad trough over the central United States. After 72 hours, the spread in the guidance increases when Eta is expected to be weaker and be steered by the low-level flow. Most of the guidance shows a northwestward to northward motion at that time period but have varying forward speed. The NHC track shows a slow north-northwest motion late in the period to account for these differences. There is lower than normal confidence in the
latter portion of the track forecast given the large spread in the guidance.

Key Messages:

  1. Heavy rainfall from Eta will continue across portions of Cuba, the Bahamas, and southern Florida and spread north into central Florida. Additional flash and urban flooding, especially across previously inundated areas, will be possible in South Florida tonight. Flash and urban flooding will also be possible for Cuba, the Bahamas and the remainder of southern Florida over the next several days.
  2. Eta could approach the Florida Gulf Coast later this week as a tropical storm, and possibly bring impacts from rain, wind, and storm surge. Interests in this area should continue to monitor the progress of Eta and updates to the forecast this week.

Forecast discussion by NHC Forecaster Brown.

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