Tropical Storm Eta potentially heads for an already soaked South Florida

South Florida and the Florida Keys should start preparing for wind and rain beginning late this weekend and lasting into early next week

On Thursday morning, a disorganized Eta continued to produce heavy rain and life-threatening flash flooding over portions of Central America. It had winds of 30mph, was located over Honduras and was moving west-northwest at 8 mph.

For Central America, through the weekend heavy rainfall from Eta is expected to lead to continued catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding along with landslides in areas of higher terrain. Flooding is also possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, the Cayman Islands and western Cuba. Storm totals could be between 30-40 inches by the time the rain ends.

Eta is forecast to regain tropical storm strength over the northwest Caribbean Sea on Friday. Although the details of the future track and intensity of Eta are uncertain, Cuba, South Florida and the Florida Keys should start preparing for impacts from wind and rainfall beginning late this weekend and lasting into early next week. The forecast has slowed down compared to Wednesday, so timing of greatest potential effects for the Florida Keys and South Florida is likely Monday and Tuesday at this time.

Regardless of intensity, an extended period of heavy rain and gusty winds is possible for southern Florida. Several inches of rain, possibly up to 10 inches, is possible. This area is already saturated, which could compound the flood risk.

With more than 75 inches of rain so far this year, Miami is currently having its seventh wettest year on record. Other locations currently experiencing a top 10 wettest year include Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce and Vero Beach.

If Eta’s center of circulation remains intact over Central America, it will keep the name. If it loses its center of circulation and a new circulation forms over the northwest Caribbean, there is a chance it would get a new name in which case would be Theta.

Important to note, whatever the tropical system is named when it approaches Florida, the effects will be the same, and folks in the current path should prepare for a prolonged wet and windy period on the horizon.

In 2020, there’s been a record-breaking 11 landfalls on the U.S. mainland. Remarkably, none of those have been in the state of Florida.