ORLANDO, Fla. – The remnants of what was once powerful Hurricane Eta have moved over Caribbean waters and are on track to strengthen on a path toward Florida before reaching the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The latest track from the Hurricane Center shows the system reaching tropical storm status as early as Friday night and strengthening further through the weekend. The center of Eta is expected to move across the northwestern Caribbean Sea Friday, approach the Cayman Islands Saturday and be near central or western Cuba Saturday night and Sunday.
From there, Eta could continue on a path toward Florida, though the storm’s exact path remains uncertain.
Here’s what to expect:
Some models show Eta clipping South Florida before moving into the Gulf, some show the system missing South Florida, entering the Gulf of Mexico then taking a turn back toward the Sunshine State and ripping through Central Florida. Others show it could do both -- meaning it would brush South Florida, enter the Gulf and impact Florida again, either in Central Florida or in the northern portion of the state.
While we wait to get more clarity about the storm’s exact path, we do already know, to some extent, the impact it could have on Florida’s weather in the coming days.
As you just saw, the computer models are not all in agreeance, which is why it’s hard to know exactly where the storm could end up making landfall, or even how many times it could. News 6 meteorologist Jonathan Kegges said earlier Friday that two Florida landfalls could be in Eta’s future.
It’s about to get windy
Whether Eta impacts only South Florida or ends up making its way to the northern portion of the state, Kegges said Central Floridians should expect strong winds on Monday, with the possibility of gusts higher than 40 mph.
Regardless of how far north #Eta gets, it will still be VERY windy (wind gusts stronger than 40mph possible) across Central Florida Monday because of a strong pressure gradient (big change in pressure over small area) between high pressure and Eta. #flwx pic.twitter.com/CgxxuUe3o5— Jonathan Kegges (@JonathanKegges) November 6, 2020
The reason strong winds are expected in Central Florida regardless of Eta’s exact location is because other weather systems will also play a role in wind speeds picking up, according to Kegges.
The graphic below shows winds of up to 31 mph will likely be felt along the coast as early as Saturday, with strong winds still possible through next week. The strongest winds are expected in Central Florida on Monday.
Winds really ramp up over the next few days, especially Monday. Gusts of 40-50mph, especially along the coast will be possible. Monday will be Eta's closest approach, but a couple of weather systems are contributing to the winds so track of #Eta not the whole story. #flwx pic.twitter.com/o6Dx3wdi4U— Jonathan Kegges (@JonathanKegges) November 6, 2020
Florida’s about to get soaked
In addition to the winds, Florida can expect to see lots of rain the next few days, with the heaviest of it expected in South Florida.
Heavy rainfall is also expected in Central Florida from Sunday evening through Tuesday morning, according to Kegges.
Heaviest rain over the next few days falls across South Florida, but heavy rain is also expected through Central Florida. Heaviest of the rain locally falls Sunday evening through Tuesday morning. #flwx pic.twitter.com/J5XJSjc38p— Jonathan Kegges (@JonathanKegges) November 6, 2020
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.
The next named system will be called Theta, the next letter of the Greek alphabet.
Forecasters ran out of traditional storm names weeks ago due to a record-breaking hurricane season and had to move on to Greek ones as storms continued to form in the very busy tropics.
This is only the second time National Hurricane Center forecasters have had to pull out the Greek alphabet for names, with the last time being 2005.
The Atlantic Hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.
Keep tabs on Eta and get the latest information on the tropics at ClickOrlando.com/hurricane.