3 P.M. CDT (21:00 UTC): In the Western Caribbean, Major Hurricane Eta is now slowly making landfall in Nicaragua, having slowed since yesterday down to just 3 mph. While the storm’s intensity appears to have peaked late last night (winds maxed out at 150 mph, minimum pressure dropped to 923mb), the storm is now coming ashore as a powerful category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds and a minimum pressure of 940mb.
The key messages for Central America remain the same–extremely dangerous, life-threatening storm surge, flooding, & mudslides are expected to prevail across much of Nicaragua today, most of Honduras tomorrow. While the wind speeds are remarkable for a November storm, water is responsible for 80-90% of damage, injuries, & fatalities related to hurricanes. Those with interests in the area are strongly encouraged to heed the advice of local emergency officials.
What has changed for those of us in the United States is the overall likelihood of Eta re-entering the Northern Caribbean & strengthening back into a tropical storm after landfall. The chances of this happening later this week have increased since yesterday. Above is the latest track from the National Hurricane Center. By Friday, after Eta decays back into a remnant low, it is expected to make a hard right-turn away from Central America & back out to sea. By Saturday, Eta will likely re-strengthen back into a tropical storm & start racing NE towards Cuba.
Beyond Cuba, Eta’s exact track still remains very uncertain. We anticipate Eta to make a run towards South Florida & the Bahamas, but it’s still too early in the forecast to say with any confidence any specifics in the forecast, i.e. exact wind speeds, rainfall totals, possible storm surge, etc.
2020 remains another exceptional year for tropical activity in the Atlantic. Officially, 2020 has tied the previous record for total storms in one season (28, last set in 2005). We’ve also seen a highly above average number of hurricanes (12, record is 15 set in 2005), as well as the first ever storm to be given the name Eta. 2005 had a technicality occur where one storm was not officially given a name, but was considered a tropical cyclone. Thus, 2005 only made it to Zeta on the list.
That’s all for now! Be sure to download the free CBS 42 Storm Team Weather App for up-to-the-minute weather alerts in YOUR area. Also, give me a follow on Twitter @GriffinHardyWX for more weather updates from across Alabama & the Southeast. Have a good night!