ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida is in the cone for the first time in a long time this hurricane season, but there are still several outcomes possible when it comes to the future of Hurricane Eta.
Eta made landfall earlier in the week in Nicaragua as a strong Category 4 hurricane. The storm is a shell of itself now, but is still bringing heavy rain to the mountainous regions of Central America. Rather than just dying out over land, the circulation of what’s left of Eta is expected to get pulled back into the Caribbean.
Where is it going?
Once the circulation gets back out over the water, it will have the potential to organize again as it lifts north. A system diving down from the U.S. will weaken high pressure that forced Eta into Central America, which will help to lift the storm back north toward Cuba and possibly Florida.
The storm could zig zag back and forth once it moves beyond Cuba as high pressure builds back in. That high pressure would have the tendency to force the storm back west into the Gulf of Mexico and could force Eta into the Gulf before it could even get to Florida.
Beyond that potential push of Eta west after Cuba, the steering currents become nonexistent for several days and Eta could meander in the western Gulf of Mexico for days before finally being shoved back east by the next cold front. Florida could also be impacted as the storm moves back east.
In addition to all of that, another area of low pressure could develop in the Gulf of Mexico this weekend, which could also influence where the storm ultimately goes. You’ll likely see this storm do some weird things during the next week.
Regardless of where it goes, rain chances go up and the wind increases for Central Florida as onshore flow brings in tropical moisture to the state. Flooding could be possible, especially in coastal areas.
How strong could it be?
There are questions as to how strong Eta can be after the time spent over Central America and another likely land interaction with Cuba coming. Current forecasts have a tropical storm moving near Florida early next week. Impacts will be possible in Central Florida, but it’s too early to just what those impacts will be at this time. Stay tuned.
For the latest models and forecast track on Eta, click here.
A similar storm
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch devastated parts of Central America before re-emerging in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm then made landfall in Southwest Florida days later.