Update: Tropical Storm Warning Issued; Eta May Become Hurricane

D'Ann Lawrence White
·9 min read

TAMPA BAY, FL —Tropical storm warning and storm surge watches have been issued for portions of the west coast of Florida including coastal Citrus, coastal Hernando, coastal Hillsborough, coastal Levy, coastal Manatee, coastal Pasco, coastal Sarasota and Pinellas counties.

At 10 p.m., a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane hunter aircraft reported that Tropical Storm Eta is stronger. Some additional strengthening is forecast through Wednesday, and Eta could be near hurricane strength by Wednesday morning.

The storm is now about 315 miles south-southwest of Tampa with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph with higher guests. The storm is moving north-northeast at 9 mph. Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center.

The tropical storm warning covers the west coast from Bonita Beach to the Suwannee River. And the storm surge watch has been issued from Bonita Beach to the Steinhatchee River, including Tampa Bay and Port Charlotte.

For the latest updates on Tropical Storm Eta, subscribe to free News Alerts.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for the Florida Gulf coast from north of the Suwanee River to the Aucilla River.

A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere in the warning area within 36 hours.

A storm surge watch means there is a possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the coastline in the indicated locations during the next 48 hours (see the National Weather Service storm surge watch/warning graphic above).

A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

Related: 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season Most Active On Record: NOAA

Additional warnings may be required along portions of the Florida Gulf coast early Wednesday.

On the forecast track the center of Eta will move closer to but offshore of the southwest coast of Florida on Wednesday, approach the west-central coast of Florida Wednesday night, and move inland over the northern portion of the Florida peninsula on Thursday.

Gradual weakening is expected to begin Wednesday night or early Thursday.

The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline. The water could reach the following heights above ground somewhere in the indicated areas if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide:

Steinhatchee River to Bonita Beach, including Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor 2 to 4 feeet
Bonita Beach to Flamingo 1 to 2 feet.

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore flow, where the surge will be accompanied by large and dangerous waves. Surge-related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.

For information specific to your area, please see products issued by the Ruskin National Weather Service forecast office.

Eta is expected to produce isolated additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches, with isolated maximum storm total accumulations of 15 to 20 inches.

Eta is expected to produce rainfall amounts through Friday in West Florida into the eastern Florida Panhandle and portions of North Florida of 1 to 3 inches, with isolated totals of 5 inches.

Additional flash and urban flooding will be possible in South Florida Tuesday night, especially across previously inundated areas, and eventually across portions of west Florida, the eastern Florida Panhandle, and north Florida Wednesday through Friday.

Tropical storm conditions are expected in the tropical storm warning area along the Florida west
coast by late Wednesday. Tropical Storm conditions are possible in the watch area along the Florida Big Bend region by Thursday.

Swells generated by Eta are expected to affect southern and western Florida, and the Florida Keys during the next day or so. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

The National Hurricane Center announce this aftrnoon that Tropical Storm Eta's track shifted significantly to the east.

No evacuations have been ordered at this time.

Prepare for dangerous wind having possible significant impacts across coastal locations from Englewood north. Potential impacts in this area include:

  • Some damage to roofing and siding materials, along with damage to porches, awnings, carports, and sheds.

  • A few buildings experiencing window, door and garage door failures.

  • Mobile homes damaged, especially if unanchored.

  • Unsecured lightweight objects become dangerous projectiles.

  • Several large trees snapped or uprooted, but with greater numbers in places where trees are shallow rooted.

  • Several fences and roadway signs blown over.

  • Some roads impassable from large debris, and more within urban or heavily wooded places.

  • A few bridges, causeways and access routes impassable.

  • Scattered power and communications outages, but more prevalent in areas with above-ground lines.

Also prepare for locally hazardous rainfall flooding having possible limited impacts across much of west central and southwest Florida. Potential impacts include:

  • Localized rainfall flooding may prompt a few evacuations.

  • Rivers and tributaries may quickly rise with swifter currents. Small streams, creeks, canals and ditches may become swollen and overflow in spots.

  • Flood waters can enter a few structures, especially in usually vulnerable spots.

  • A few places where rapid ponding of water occurs at underpasses, low-lying spots, and poor drainage areas.

  • Several storm drains and retention ponds become near-full and begin to overflow.

  • Some brief road and bridge closures.

Prepare for locally hazardous surge having possible limited impacts at the beaches. Potential impacts in this area include:

  • Localized inundation with storm surge flooding mainly along immediate shorelines and in low-lying spots, or in areas farther inland near where higher surge waters move ashore.

  • Sections of near-shore roads and parking lots become overspread with surge water. Driving conditions dangerous in places where surge water covers the road.

  • Moderate beach erosion. Heavy surf also breaching dunes, mainly in usually vulnerable locations. Strong rip currents.

  • Minor to locally moderate damage to marinas, docks, boardwalks, and piers. A few small craft broken away from moorings.

If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately.

Now is the time to check your emergency plan and emergency supplies kit and take necessary actions to protect your family and secure your home or business. When making safety and preparedness decisions, do not focus on the exact forecast track since hazards such as flooding rain, damaging wind gusts, storm surge and tornadoes extend well away from the center of the storm.

If in a place that is vulnerable to high wind, such as near large trees, a manufactured home, upper floors of a high-rise building or on a boat, plan to move to safe shelter.

If you live in a place particularly vulnerable to flooding, such as near the ocean or a large inland lake, in a low-lying or poor drainage area, or near an already swollen river, plan to move to safe shelter on higher ground.

Always heed the advice of local officials and comply with orders that are issued. Do not needlessly jeopardize your life or the lives of others.

If you are a visitor, know the name of the county in which you are located and where it is relative to current watches and warnings. If staying at a hotel, ask the management staff about their onsite disaster plan. Listen for evacuation orders, especially pertaining to area visitors.

Closely monitor weather.gov, the NOAA Weather Radio and local news outlets for official storm information.

In Pinellas County

The Pinellas County's Emergency Operations Center is open and remains at Level 2 activation. Pinellas is monitoring the progress of the storm and has opened its County Information Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Call 727-464-4333 or, for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, chat online.

The Tropicana Field coronavirus testing site remains open on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon. Please note that staff at the site had to cut off the line at 2 p.m. today to ensure everyone in line could get tested.

The COVID-19 testing site at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater will be open from 7 to 10 a.m. Wednesday.

  • Prepare for possible heavy winds by bringing in outside items that could blow around, such as lawn furniture, flower pots, garden décor, etc.

  • Register for emergency alerts.

  • Locate your evacuation zone.

  • Finalize preparedness plans.

  • Monitor the National Weather Service and the Pinellas County Government website and social media.

  • Download the Ready Pinellas app for iOS and Android.

  • If you need access to special needs shelters and have not yet registered this year, preregister by calling 727-464-4333 during County Information Center hours or go to the website.

  • Prepare your kit: be sure to include face coverings, sanitizer and necessary hygiene supplies, and gather important papers.

  • Review your checklist online.

In Pasco County

Pasco County’s Department of Emergency Management is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Eta and is urging residents to be prepared for the possibility of heavy rain and wind in the coming days. Store and secure loose items around your home and yard.

Pasco County now has four, self-serve sandbag stations open 24 hours to help protect your property from potential flooding. Sand and bags are available at the following locations:

Note: Sandbag locations are open 24 hours to Pasco County residents; however, sand will only be restocked between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. You should bring a shovel and be prepared to fill your own sandbags. Learn how to use sandbags effectively in this brief video.

Pasco County reminds you to double-check your Disaster Kit, and make sure you know your evacuation zone, which you can find in the Pasco County Disaster Preparedness Guide.

For more information about preparing for disasters – including how to sign up for emergency notifications through Alert Pasco, visit the Pasco County Department of Emergency Management website.

In Hillsborough County

Click here for Hillsborough County information.

In Manatee County

Click here for Manatee County information.

In Sarasota County

Click here for Sarasota County information.

See related stories:

This article originally appeared on the Clearwater Patch