'Vigorous tropical wave’ likely to become depression in Caribbean, forecasters say

Paola Pérez, Orlando Sentinel
·2 min read

A “vigorous tropical wave” in the central Caribbean Sea is expected to become the next tropical depression or tropical storm of the 2020 hurricane season, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters said the chances for development over the next 48 hours are high, near 100% percent on Saturday afternoon.

“A tropical depression appears to be forming" as the wave continues to produce organized clouds and thunderstorms, the NHC said in its 2 p.m. advisory.

“If this recent development trend continues, then advisories will likely be initiated on this disturbance this afternoon or evening while the system moves generally westward at about 15 mph toward the western Caribbean Sea,” the advisory reads.

If the system develops into a tropical storm, it will be named the Greek letter Eta, the 28th named storm of the season. It would be the first time Eta was ever used for a storm.

Regardless of whether it becomes a depression or storm, the disturbance “is expected to produce heavy rainfall across portions of Jamaica and southern Hispaniola through the weekend,” the advisory reads.

The NHC said interests in Jamaica, Honduras and Nicaragua should monitor the system.

Eta’s potential arrival would follow Zeta, which dissipated in the north Atlantic Ocean early Friday.

People across the Southeastern region of the United States were still digging out from the powerful storm that killed six people.

The wind effects of Zeta, which came ashore in Cocodrie, Louisiana, and barreled northeast, were felt all the way from the Gulf Coast to southern New Jersey. At the height of the outages, as many as 2.6 million people were without power across seven states from Louisiana to Virginia. Utility crews were out assessing the damage and fixing it.

A man was electrocuted in New Orleans, and four people died in Alabama and Georgia when trees fell on homes, authorities said, including two people who were pinned to their bed. In Biloxi, Mississippi, a man drowned when he was trapped in rising seawater.

Officials repeatedly stressed that the risks were not over — pointing out that fatalities often come after a storm has passed, from things like breathing toxic generator fumes or being electrocuted by downed power lines.

Zeta was the 27th named storm of a historically busy year, with more than a month left in the Atlantic hurricane season. It set a new record as the 11th named storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. in a single season, well beyond the nine that hit in 1916. And the coronavirus pandemic has only made things more difficult for evacuees.

The last official day of hurricane season is Nov. 30.

This article originally appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Tiffini Theisen and Joe Mario Pedersen of the Sentinel Staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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