Tropical Storm Eta made landfall on Florida’s west coast Thursday, bringing heavy rain and gusty winds to northern parts of the peninsula.
Eta came ashore near Cedar Key at 4 a.m. New York time, with maximum sustained winds of 50 miles (85 km) an hour, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. Localized flash and urban flooding is possible over a wide area.
This is Eta’s second strike after it hit the Florida Keys late Sunday as the record 12th named storm to target the U.S. in 2020. It had already left a path of destruction through Central America, killing more than 100 people across the region last week, according to the Associated Press
The storm briefly became a hurricane on Wednesday before its winds fell below that threshold. A hurricane watch that had been in effect along Florida’s west coast was dropped.
Eta has wound a strange path since forming in the Caribbean in late October. First it struck Nicaragua and Honduras on Nov. 3-5, then curled back to move northward across Cuba on Nov. 8 before striking the Florida Keys. It then moved into the Gulf of Mexico before twisting back again to take another strike at the sunshine state, this time from the west.
Eta is forecast to sweep rain and wind across northeastern Florida, before popping back into the Atlantic later on Thursday. Now that the storm has made landfall, it may weaken, but could re-intensify as a non-tropical cyclone later on Thursday and Friday, the NHC said.
The storm has already brought rains and storm surge across southern Florida for days. Neighborhoods flooded across several parts of south Florida, including Miami’s Brickell Avenue financial district, where several banks and investment firms have their offices.
There was also some slight damage to orange crops. Florida is the world’s second-largest producer of orange juice, behind Brazil.
Across the Atlantic, a record 29 storms have formed this year, breaking the previous mark set in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Theta is currently in the central Atlantic far from land, while a third storm could develop in the Caribbean in the next four days.
So many storms have formed this year that the hurricane center used up all the names on the official list by mid-September and has had to use Greek letters to designate subsequent systems.
–With assistance from Jonathan Levin.
About the photo: Flooding in Rio Nance, Honduras on Nov. 8.
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