Tropical Storm Eta shifts west toward Florida Panhandle

Tropical Storm Eta is expected as soon as this weekend.

After drenching South Florida and departing for the Gulf of Mexico, Tropical Storm Eta on Tuesday shifted course toward the Florida Panhandle.

The Nation Hurricane Center’s (NHC) latest projections forecast the storm approaching the Panhandle this weekend as a weakening tropical storm or a tropical depression. No watches or warnings have been issued for the region.

The storm, regardless of status, is expected to bring heavy rains, winds and storm surge.

“Interests in this area should continue to monitor the progress of Eta and updates to the forecast this week,” the NHC advised.

Graphic via National Hurricane Center.

As of  10 a.m., Eta was located about 60 miles north-northwest of Cuba and packing maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. The storm is stationary but will begin crawling toward the Panhandle late Tuesday, forecasters said.

Eta comes as the 28th named storm in the historic 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Notably, it was the first to make landfall in Florida.

The storm swept over South Florida after striking Central American countries as a Category 4 hurricane and killing at least 100 people from Mexico to Panama.

Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale, was among the harder hit areas.

All of the state-managed COVID-19 testing sites in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties closed on Sunday and Monday due to the storm. At least seven testing sites remained closed Tuesday.

The storm caused dramatic flooding in certain areas, although there was no immediate call for a National Guard activation.

Meanwhile, Theta, late Monday, became the 29th named storm of the 2020 season. Forecasters said it had developed about 995 miles southwest of the Azores, packing top sustained winds of 50 mph. That system was moving to the east at 15 mph and posed no immediate threat to land.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday encouraged Floridians to gather supplies before Eta makes a second landfall.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.


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