John Morales

Prepare for Possible Tropical Storm Conditions in South Florida From Eta: Morales

There is a strong consensus among the forecast models that Eta will restrengthen into a tropical storm

On Tuesday I asked for you to not be too concerned about Eta until we could know more. Now it’s Friday, and I feel like we know enough to have you start to prepare yourself of potential tropical storm conditions in South Florida between Sunday and Monday.

While Eta is still just a tropical depression at the time of this writing on early Friday afternoon, there is a strong consensus among the forecast models that it will restrengthen into a tropical storm.

This weekend, as cold and dry air brought in aloft by low pressure diving southeastward from Texas, Eta could become a hybrid subtropical storm. This process should keep it from becoming a hurricane, and the National Hurricane Center agrees according to their official forecast.

However, the wind field of a subtropical storm is often larger than that of a warm-core tropical system. Therefore, the exact track of the center of Eta becomes less important.

Whether it takes a sharp left out of Cuba on Sunday and remains over the Florida Straits and Gulf of Mexico, or crosses the Florida Keys, or even closer to Miami-Dade County, the effects could be similar. That is, winds often to tropical storm force, excessive rain, isolated tornadoes, and a modest storm surge.

The timing is as follows: waves of heavy rain on Saturday, occasionally with a strong gust. Stronger sustained winds on Sunday, especially in the afternoon and evening, with gusts potentially 50-65 MPH, heavy rain, isolated tornadoes, and minor coastal saltwater inundation. Monday would keep lingering effects over the area, but with less constant rain, lower winds and diminishing tornado risk.

A Flood Watch is already in effect. A Tropical Storm Watch is likely going to be issued for the Florida Keys and metro South Florida, as early as Friday. If needed, a Tropical Storm Warning and Hurricane Watch would be issued for the area on Saturday in expectation of Sunday-Monday impacts. For now, the chance of tropical storm force winds in Miami stands at 29% and for Marathon in the Middle Keys at 40%.

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