ORLANDO, Fla. – As the remnants of Hurricane Eta moved back over Caribbean waters Friday, some computer models and the official track from the National Hurricane Center show the weather system potentially hitting South Florida in the coming days before moving into the Gulf of Mexico.
An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft found Friday afternoon that the center of Eta was farther south than forecasters initially suspected. As of Friday afternoon, Eta was 115 miles east of Belize City. Eta has winds of 35 mph and was moving northeast at 7 mph.
The easternmost portion of the official track shows the system could impact the western part of Central Florida, but the storm’s path is uncertain. The latest track also shows Florida’s Panhandle could feel Eta’s impacts.
The track shows Eta approaching Cuba late Saturday before approaching Florida early Monday as a strong tropical storm. According to the National Hurricane Center, Eta could reach tropical storm status again Friday afternoon or night, with further strengthening likely through early Sunday.
It remains to be seen where Eta goes after entering the Gulf off Florida’s west coast. It’s possible the storm could turn back into Florida, according to some model runs.
Meanwhile, governments worked to tally the displaced and dead and recover bodies from landslides and flooding that claimed dozens of lives from Guatemala to Panama.
It will be days before the true toll of Eta will be known. Its torrential rains battered economies already strangled by the COVID-19 pandemic, took all from those who had little and laid bare the shortcomings of governments unable to aid their citizens and pleading for international assistance.
Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei says dozens of people have been killed in landslides.
Something new brewing?
Eta isn’t the only area in the tropics being monitored by the National Hurricane Center.
As of Friday afternoon, forecasters were also monitoring a broad non-tropical low pressure system that could form several hundred miles southwest of the Azores early next week. The system could gradually develop some subtropical characteristics as it moves slowly northeastward over the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, according to the NHC.
The Hurricane Center is giving it a 20% chance of development over the next five days.