A rare, Category 4 Hurricane Eta hit Nicaragua with 140-mile-per-hour winds, and could eventually make it’s way to the United States.
- The current forecast track for the storm continues to keep much of South Florida in its path.
- If Eta hits the U.S., it would be the 12th named storm to make landfall this year, an all-time record.
- Floods and landslides from the storm have killed at least 13 people and destroyed hundreds of homes in Central America.
Tropical Depression Eta is on track to strengthen again into a tropical storm and head toward Cuba and Florida over the weekend and into early next week.
The storm, which was still drenching Central America on Thursday, continues to keep much of South Florida in its path. The National Weather Service in Miami warned residents an extended period of heavy rain and gusty winds was possible for portions of the area by the weekend.
Tropical-storm-force winds of 40 to 60 mph were likely to arrive in the Florida Keys as early as Saturday night. The strong winds will then spread north over the southern part of the Florida Peninsula on Sunday and Sunday night, according to AccuWeather.
Tropics watch: Slow-moving Tropical Depression Eta continues to threaten Florida
There is a chance the storm could reach hurricane strength as it moves across the Caribbean, forecasters said.
Hurricane Eta swept through Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua, on Wednesday. Floods and landslides from the storm have killed at least 13 people and damaged hundreds of homes in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras. (Photo: INTI OCON, AFP via Getty Images)
“Should Eta strengthen beyond a Category 1 hurricane prior to reaching Cuba and/or move more slowly than projected, rain and wind could be greater than anticipated in Cuba and later Florida,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Mike Doll said.
If Eta hits the U.S., it would be the 12th named storm to make landfall this year, an all-time record.
Floods and landslides from the storm have killed at least 13 people and damaged hundreds of homes in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
The storm that hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday had become more of a vast tropical rainstorm, but it was advancing so slowly and dumping so much rain that much of Central America remained on high alert.
The threat is far from over in Central America, the Hurricane Center warned: “Through Monday morning, heavy rainfall from Eta will lead to catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding across portions of Central America, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain.”
Eta is the 28th storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which ties the 2005 season for the most storms on record, the Weather Channel said. It’s also the 12th hurricane of the season, which ties for the second-most on record for a year in the Atlantic.
Hurricane season continues until Nov. 30.
Contributing: Cheryl McCloud, The Fort-Myers News-Press; The Associated Press
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