The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida is maintaining Hurricane and Storm Surge Watch and Warnings for portions of Florida this evening as Tropical Storm Eta lashes the Sunshine State with heavy rains and strong, gusty winds. As Eta moves through the Florida Straits, Eta is forecast by the National Hurricane Center to reach hurricane intensity near the Florida Keys later tonight or early tomorrow.
As of the last advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the center of Eta was located about 115 miles east-southeast of Marathon, Florida and about 140 miles south-southeast of Miami, Florida. With maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and minimum central pressure of 993 mb or 29.33 inches, Eta was moving to the northwest at 14 mph.
With the storm expected to gain strength as it moves to Florida, a variety of watches and warnings are in effect.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay; a Storm Surge Watch is in effect for the Florida coast from Bonita Beach to Card Sound Bridge. A Storm Surge Warning means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline, during the next 36 hours. “This is a life-threatening situation, ” warns the National Hurricane Center. “Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions. Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials.” A Storm Surge Watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation, from rising water moving inland from the coastline in the watch area during the next 48 hours.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay; a Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Florida coast from Golden Beach to Bonita Beach. A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. The National Hurricane Center says preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion. A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within the watch area, in this case within the next 24 hours.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Northwestern Bahamas, including the Abacos, Andros Island, Berry Islands, Bimini, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama Island, and New Providence, the Florida coast from Brevard/Volusia County line to Englewood, and for Lake Okeechobee. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for the Florida coast from north of Englewood to Anna Maria Island. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, generally within 36 hours. A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.
It is possible additional watches or warnings may be needed for Florida’s west coast in the coming days.
Eta is forecast to turn toward the west by Monday. On the forecast track, the center of Eta will continue to move over the Florida Straits between Cuba and the Bahamas this evening, pass near or over the Florida Keys tonight and early Monday, and be over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico late Monday and Tuesday.
Eta will continue to dump very heavy rain over Florida. Portions of the central and southern Florida peninsula, including the Keys, will see 6-12″ of rain for a storm total; some isolated maximum storm totals can approach 18″ in parts of south Florida. Significant flash and urban flooding will be possible for Southern Florida; minor river flooding is also possible for Central Florida.
The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water could reach upwards of 4′ in parts of Florida. The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.
Hurricane wind conditions are expected in the Florida Keys by early Monday morning. Tropical storm conditions are expected to continue in the warning areas in Cuba during the next several hours and in the northwestern Bahamas through tonight. Tropical storm conditions are expected to begin in south Florida and the Florida Keys this afternoon or evening, and hurricane conditions are possible in the hurricane watch area in Florida tonight and early Monday. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the Tropical Storm Watch area in Florida by early Monday.
A few tornadoes are also possible this evening through Monday over south Florida and the Keys.