The official start to the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season is less than a month away, and with several forecast agencies predicting another active year, now is the time to prepare.

Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Life and property can also be at risk hundreds of miles inland. The hazards, however, are not the same for all locations.

Most residents in hurricane prone areas understand how intense the winds can be but many may not realize, or prepare for, other hazards a storm presents.

Understanding one’s risk is the first step to preparing for the possible life-altering effects from a storm.  

Storm Surge

Storm surge is the abnormal rise in seawater level during a storm, measured as the height of the water above the normal predicted astronomical tide. The surge height can be up to two stories tall along the coast and can flood communities and neighborhoods several miles inland. The water is often driven by hurricane force winds, moving at a rate of up to one mile every four minutes. It can also be filled with dangerous debris, sewage, and electrical currents from fallen power lines.

According to a National Hurricane Center study, out of the 2,325 direct fatalities recorded between 1963 and 2012 roughly 90% occurred in water-related incidents, most by drowning. Storm surge was responsible for about half of all fatalities (49%).

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) says that the first step to understanding your storm surge risk is to know your evacuation zone. You can find your zone in the Florida Storms app by tapping the menu item “Evacuate”.

Extreme Wind and Power Outages

Tropical cyclones are known for their powerful winds, and they are not just confined to coastal areas. Hurricane-force winds can travel far inland after a hurricane makes landfall, causing considerable structural damage and power outages that can last days, sometimes weeks.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale categorizes a storm from 1 to 5 based on the intensity of the winds. However, when the National

Hurricane Center issues a statement to the public concerning the wind and category, that value is for sustained winds only. The hurricane scale does not include gusts or squalls.

The highest wind speeds are typically found in the eye wall of the hurricane and generally in the area to right of the eye, known as the right-front quadrant. This section of the storm tends to also have the most damaging storm surge. Areas that are forecast to go through this quadrant typically experience the heaviest damage. This powerful quadrant can sustain its strength over land for some time before the tropical cyclone begins to weaken. 

Category 5 Hurricane Michael came ashore near Mexico Beach, Florida in October 2018. Areas along the shoreline experienced catastrophic damage from winds up to 160 mph. The storm maintained its major hurricane strength as it pushed into Georgia, more than 60 miles from where it came ashore, continuing to flatten homes and topple trees. The strong winds from Michael also caused extensive power outages as far north as Virginia, more than 24-hours after landfall.

The two most important steps to prepare for the wind is to strengthen your home and build a supply kit. Supply kit checklists, such as this printable one from FEMA, are a great resource to have in hand while shopping.

Inland Flooding

Tropical cyclones also threaten the United States with torrential rains and flooding. Even after the strong winds have diminished, the flooding potential of these storms can remain for several days.

A common misconception is to believe that the higher the category of a storm, the greater the potential for flooding. This is not always the case. In fact, large and slow-moving tropical cyclones, regardless of strength, are the ones that usually produce the most flooding. This was evident with Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 which devastated portions of southeast Texas with severe flooding, despite only having maximum winds of 60 mph.

Sixteen years later it would happen again, in the same area. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey came ashore as a major Category 4 hurricane before quickly weakening over southeast Texas. Although Harvey quickly weakened to a Tropical Storm, the system became almost stationary over the region for days. Southeast Texas saw the worst of the flooding as heavy rains delivered more than 40 inches of rain to some areas in less than 48-hours.

Since 1970, nearly 60% of the 600 deaths due to floods associated with tropical cyclones occurred inland from the storm’s landfall. Of that 60%, almost a fourth (23%) of U.S. tropical cyclone deaths occur to people who drown in, or attempting to abandon, their cars.

A homeowner’s insurance does not always cover flooding. It is also widely believed that the federal government can pay for your damages after a flood. While some agencies do provide assistance after a major event, the amount typically comes up far short of what it actually costs to fully restore one’s property or livelihood. When preparing for the season ahead, consider purchasing flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as soon as possible.

Tornadoes

Tropical cyclones often produce tornadoes, which can contribute to the overall destructive power of a storm. Similar to storm surge and extreme wind, tornadoes are more likely to occur in the right-front quadrant of the hurricane relative to its motion. However, they can also be found throughout the storm.

Tornadoes associated with tropical cyclones are usually less intense than those that occur in Tornado Alley and Dixie Alley. Although these tornadoes are generally weak, the effects of tornadoes can produce substantial damage for anyone in the path of an approaching hurricane. Residents are advised to have multiple ways of receiving alerts during a hurricane, such as tornado warnings, should there be a loss of power. The use of a battery-powered NOAA weather radio or a mobile app with push notifications is encouraged.

The Time to Prepare is Now

Developing and reviewing an evacuation plan is crucial as hurricane season draws near. Learn your evacuation zone and know where to go in the event of an evacuation order.

Collect and assemble a disaster supply which includes food, water, medication, important documents, and sentimental items.
Strengthen your home and check on family, friends and neighbors. Help individuals collect supplies before the storm and assist them with evacuation if ordered to do so. Check in on them, especially the elderly, after the storm has passed and it is safe to do so.

The official start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and lasts through November 30th. However, the Atlantic has produced early-season cyclones over the last six consecutive years. The time to prepare is now, before the formation of a storm.

An active weather pattern is possible for parts of the Sunshine State this weekend as a strong cold front moves in from the west.

High pressure to the northeast of the state Thursday will continue to keep most of the region dry through the end of the work week. However, beginning Friday night, a warm front stretching from a low pressure system in the southern Plains will begin to lift northeastward across the Florida Peninsula. A few showers will be possible along this frontal boundary as it lifts northward through the state.

The severe weather risk will begin to increase Saturday, especially across the Florida Panhandle as the warm front situates itself to the north of the state and a cold front approaches from the west. This will place most of the Panhandle and North Florida in a “warm sector”. Within this section temperatures and moisture will be high allowing for the development of showers and thunderstorms.

Weather models are indicating moderate wind shear with atmospheric instability increasing in the afternoon. This environment will be favorable for severe thunderstorms capable of producing strong winds, small hail, and isolated tornadoes. Heavy rainfall will also be a concern, especially for areas that have received an abundant amount of rainfall from the previous event which took place last weekend. Isolated flash flooding will be possible through the weekend.

The Storm Prediction Center, as of Thursday afternoon, has so far issued a Slight Risk (hazard level 2 out of 5) for the entire Florida Panhandle and Big Bend area for Saturday. A Marginal Risk (hazard level 1 out of 5) extends into parts of North Florida extending from Cedar Key, through Gainesville, and towards Jacksonville. This could change over the next few days as the event draws closer. However, residents in the Florida Panhandle and North Florida should be prepared for the chance of strong to severe thunderstorms mainly for Saturday.

The cold front is anticipated to move through the western Florida Panhandle during the morning hours on Saturday before approaching the Big Bend and North Florida towards the afternoon and evening. Overnight into Sunday the cold front will continue to move steadily southeastward towards Central Florida. The frontal boundary should exit into the Atlantic by the end of the day Sunday allowing for high pressure to build back into the Sunshine State making for a sunnier and drier start to the new work week.

Expires at 11:59pm on Saturday April 24th, 2021

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for central parts of the Florida Peninsula until 4:00PM EST.

The watch area extends from southern parts of the Big Bend, across to the Atlantic coastlines, and down to the north of the Lake Okeechobee area. Major metropolitan cities include, but are not limited to: Tampa, Orlando, Daytona, St. Petersburg, and Melbourne.

A squall line is expected to develop over the Gulf of Mexico Sunday morning and approach Gulf coast areas by the mid to late morning. Ahead of this line, strong, potentially damaging winds will be possible, with winds in excess of 60 mph. Small hail and isolated tornadoes will also be possible as these storms move through the region.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means that atmospheric conditions are conducive to create thunderstorms which may reach severe levels. Make sure that you have multiple way to receive weather warnings today and seek shelter as these storms move through.

Expires at 7:00pm on Sunday April 11th, 2021

Hurricane researchers at Colorado State University are forecasting another active hurricane season, even as residents of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts may still be recovering from last year's historic events.

Dr. Phil Klotzbach, program director of Colorado State University (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project, presented the team’s forecast at the annual National Tropical Weather Conference Thursday. The team is predicting 17 named storms for the North Atlantic, which runs from June 1 to November 30. Of these named storms, researchers expect eight to become hurricanes (sustained wind speed of at least 74 mph on Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) and four to reach major hurricane strength (Category 3 - 5) with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater. Klotzbach says the reason for the above-average forecast was the forecast lack of El Niño conditions and warmer than average subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures.

A normal hurricane season generally produces 12 named storms, including six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

CSU bases its forecasts on a statistical model, as well as a new model that uses a combination of statistical information and forecasts from a dynamical model. These models are built on about 30-60 years of statistical and statistical-dynamical methodologies including, but not limited to, Atlantic sea surface temperatures, sea level pressure, vertical wind shear, El Niño Southern Oscillation, and other factors.

Probability of U.S. Landfalls

The CSU report also includes the probability of major hurricanes making landfall along coastlines in the North Atlantic Basin:

The forecast team also tracks the likelihood of tropical storm-force, hurricane-force and major hurricane-force winds occurring at specific locations along the coastal United States, the Caribbean, and Central America through its Landfall Probability website.This is the 38th year that the CSU hurricane research team has issued their Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecast. Bill Gray, the founder of the seasonal forecasts, launched the report in 1984 and continued to author them until his death in 2016.

Reviewing the historic 2020 season

The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season broke multiple records and is currently the most active and the fifth costliest Atlantic hurricane season on record. The season features 31 total cyclones of which 30 became named storms. Out of the 30 named storms, 13 gained hurricane strength, and six achieved major hurricane status. The contiguous United States was impacted by 11 storms, breaking the record of nine set in 1916. The 2020 season was the fifth consecutive season in which at least one Category 5 hurricane formed — Hurricane Iota. The season featured 27 tropical storms which established a new record for the earliest formation by storm number. The historic season also recorded 10 tropical cyclones which underwent rapid intensification, tying the record with the 1995 season.

The season also utilized the Greek Alphabet for the second time in history; it would also be the final time the naming system would be used. The World Meteorological Organization retired the names of Laura, Eta and Iota and eliminated the use of the Greek letter storm naming system for future seasons. 

The State of Florida overall was relatively lucky during the 2020 Hurricane Season. Florida was brushed by four systems of which only Tropical Storm Eta made a direct landfall. The most memorable for Floridians was likely Hurricane Sally, which crossed the southern end of the peninsula as a depression before making landfall on September 15th near Gulf Shores, Alabama. Sally brought massive storm surge and flooding to the western Florida Panhandle, especially to the city of Pensacola. The state also experienced a disturbance that crossed the Panhandle in July which later intensified into Tropical Storm Fay off the coast of Georgia. Finally, the month of August opened with Isaias running north off Florida’s East Coast as a strong Tropical Storm.

The countdown to another hurricane season has begun.

Coastal residents are encouraged to prepare for hurricane season early by reviewing evacuation routes ahead of time, purchasing flood insurance, and having emergency provisions on hand along with a disaster plan in place. No matter the frequency of storms forecast, it only takes one storm making landfall to make it an active season.

The CSU forecast is intended to provide a best estimate of activity in the Atlantic during the upcoming season. It is not an exact measure. Updates to the 2021 Atlantic basin hurricane forecasts from Colorado State will be released on June 3, July 8 and August 5 as new information becomes available leading up to the most active months of the season, which are usually September and October.

Expires at 12:00pm on Thursday April 15th, 2021

The month of February has been very wet for much of the Sunshine State. Parts of North Florida and the Florida Panhandle have seen double the average of rain generally experienced during the the second month of the year. However, drier conditions are finally on the way once a cold front tracks through the state beginning Monday morning.

University of Florida student forecaster Anthony Bordanaro posted a map on Twitter Saturday from the Climate Prediction Center, highlighting the above normal rainfall that has fallen across the northern half of Florida recently.

A low pressure system over the central United States was continuing to move eastward Sunday into the Mississippi River Valley. Ahead of the cold front winds will shift to become more southerly across Florida, increasing atmospheric moisture and surface temperatures. Afternoon high temperatures could rise slightly above average for some locations. Mid to upper 60s are expected for the Florida Panhandle with mid to upper 70s across the Peninsula. A few areas could enter into the lower 80s Monday afternoon ahead of the cold front. 

The cold front, by day break Monday, should extend from the low pressure system near the Great Lakes southwestward across the lower Mississippi Valley and into the northwest Gulf of Mexico. Scattered showers will begin first along western portions of the Florida Panhandle Monday morning before spreading eastward into the northern Peninsula in the afternoon and evening. Moderate atmospheric forcing is anticipated which will allow for widespread showers to develop ahead of the frontal boundary. Fortunately, upper level wind shear is expected to remain minimal and be confined offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. This should keep the severe risk minimal across Florida throughout the event, although an isolated strong to severe thunderstorm cannot be ruled out.  

The heaviest rainfall is expected across portions of the Big Bend and north and central parts of the Peninsula as a prefrontal trough ahead of the cold front develops over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico and encompassed a large portion of the Florida Peninsula by the early evening. Waves of low pressure energy are expected to develop along the prefrontal trough, especially where it intersects the advancing cold front. Although thunderstorm activity will be minimal the threat for isolated flooding will remain for Monday afternoon and overnight into Tuesday. 

The cold front will continue southeastward through Central Florida late Monday night and begin to move into South Florida early Tuesday morning before exiting into the Atlantic. Tuesday will mark the first day of what could be several days of dry and mild conditions across Florida as a surface high pressure system builds in from the west. Temperatures on the backside of the cold front will be cooler, dipping slightly below average, before rising back to near-average Wednesday. 

Expires at 10:54am on Monday February 22nd, 2021

A Tornado Watch has been issued for parts of the Florida Panhandle until 4:00PM CDT.

The watch is valid for the following counties: Franklin, Gadsden, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla, Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, and Jackson. This includes the city of Tallahassee.

A line of strong showers and thunderstorms associated with an approaching cold front will be slowly pushing eastward through the Florida Panhandle Thursday morning and afternoon. A few storms have the potential to produce strong straight-line winds, small hail, and isolated tornadoes. Flash flooding will also be a concern for regions that pick up heavy amounts of rainfall.

It is recommended that residents have multiple way of receiving weather warnings throughout this event. One available resource is the Florida Storms mobile app, a free service of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network.

FLORIDA STORMS
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Expires at 6:00pm on Thursday February 18th, 2021

A slow-moving cold front could produce numerous rounds of thunderstorms across parts of the Sunshine State to ring in the New Year.

On Thursday, a low pressure system lifting from Mexico into the Gulf Coast of Texas was intensifying into a winter storm as it moved northeastward into the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys. A cold front associated with the storm is expected to approach the western Florida Panhandle by Thursday night, just in time to ring in the New Year.

The Storm Prediction Center has issued a slight risk (risk level 2 out of 5) for portions of the far western Panhandle for Thursday and overnight into Friday. This risk area encompasses the cities of Pensacola and Destin. Strong storms are possible during the overnight hours Thursday, some of which may deliver heavy rainfall, potentially damaging wind gusts, and the chance for isolated tornadoes.

The low pressure system will continue northeast into the Great Lakes region Friday and into Saturday but the cold front, which will continue to extend down into the Central Gulf of Mexico, will make very little progress on its journey eastward. The front is expected to move through the western Florida Panhandle early New Year’s Day before slowly inching towards northern parts of the Peninsula late Friday night and into Saturday. A marginal threat (risk level 1 out of 5) is in place for Friday for the Apalachicola region and the Big Bend for the chance of heavy rainfall and strong straight-line winds. This threat extends eastward to encompass North Florida overnight into Saturday morning.

The cold front is expected to continue southeast crossing through Central Florida Sunday morning before moving into the Atlantic and away from the Sunshine State overnight into Monday. Near seasonal temperatures and drier conditions will return state-wide upon the passage of the front.

Expires at 6:00pm on Friday January 1st, 2021

The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season was nothing short of historic, and many coastal residents are thankful the record-breaking season has come to a close.

Activity began early again this year, with Tropical Storms Arthur and Bertha forming in the month of May. Cristobal was the third name storm of the year, and it formed on only the second day of the season (June 2). Cristobal was the first of 27 named storms this year that set a record for the earliest formation date in a calendar year.

The 2020 season was filled with 30 tropical storms, 13 of which became hurricanes, and 6 achieved major hurricane status (Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). An average hurricane season typically produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes and three major hurricanes. 2020 was the second season to use the Greek alphabet naming system, and it was the most active season in the Atlantic Basin since records began in 1851.

Of the 30 named storms, 22 total landfalls were recorded across the whole Atlantic. 12 of those made landfall in the contiguous United States, breaking the prior record of nine set in 1916. The Gulf Coast may have received the brunt of the direct hits this year, however, no coastline was spared from the threat of tropical cyclones. According to the National Weather Service Corpus Christi, tropical storm or storm surge watches and warnings were issued for every mile of U.S. coastline along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.

September was the most active month on record in the Atlantic, with 10 named storms occurring that month. The season also featured a total of 10 tropical cyclones which underwent rapid intensification, tying it with the 1995 Hurricane Season. 2020 was the fifth consecutive above-average hurricane season and the first extremely active season since 2017.

The 2020 season was also the fifth consecutive season in which at least one Category 5 hurricane formed. Hurricane Iota became a deadly Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 160 mph, making landfall as a strong Category 4 hurricane in eastern Nicaragua, only two weeks after another Category 4 (Hurricane Eta) impacted the same area. Iota broke the record of the latest Category 5 hurricane to form in the Atlantic basin, reaching that status on Nov. 16.

Louisiana was hit the hardest, with five total landfalls this season, which is also a record. Category 4 Hurricane Laura impacted the state in late August, becoming the strongest tropical cyclone on record in terms of wind speed to make landfall in Louisiana, alongside the 1856 Last Island Hurricane.

These are only a handful of records that the 2020 Hurricane Season achieved and meteorologists attribute this unprecedented activity in part to an ongoing La Niña.

A La Niña is a natural ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator, the opposite of El Niño which produces warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in that region. The opposite effect takes place in the Atlantic. During a La Niña the Atlantic experiences warmer than average sea surface temperatures and a weakening in vertical wind shear over the Caribbean Sea and tropical Atlantic basin, which enables cyclones to develop and intensify. NOAA scientists say there is a 75% chance that La Niña will continue to be in place from December 2020 through February 2021. This could extend hurricane season past the November 30th deadline.

November 30th may mark the official end to the hurricane season, however that does not mean tropical cyclones follow this schedule. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration currently defines the hurricane season as occurring between June 1st and November 30th each calendar year, which is when 97% of all Atlantic tropical cyclones occur.

There have been a total of 87 off-season tropical cyclones to have formed in the Atlantic basin since 1851. Off-season tropical cyclones are most likely to occur in May, with approximately 60% of the total forming in this month. Only 15 tropical cyclones have formed in the month of December (5.8%).

Although the season came to a close Monday, meteorologists are continuing to watch an area for potential development over the far eastern Atlantic towards Europe. This broad area of low pressure could acquire subtropical characteristics over the next few days as it meanders to the north of the Canary Islands. Environmental conditions are forecast to become unfavorable for further development but at this time the system has a moderate chance for further development. If the storm develops it will be the 32nd cyclone and given the name Kappa if it achieves Tropical Storm status.

Two storm systems could affect outdoor plans across the Sunshine State this holiday weekend, with the latter potentially being more disruptive to those with travel plans Sunday or Monday.

The first system will be weak and mostly only affect the northern third of the state, but it might dampen a few Thanksgiving Day plans. Severe thunderstorms swept across portions of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana Tuesday night ahead of strong cold front. This front is likely to weaken during the day Wednesday as it approaches the Florida Panhandle, but scattered showers will still be possible along it through Wednesday night. The severe threat will be minimal by the time the front approaches Pensacola and the Emerald Coast, but enough instability may exist for a few thunderstorms through Thursday in these areas.

Shower chances will spread east Thanksgiving Day, potentially affecting holiday outdoor plans near Panama City and Tallahassee. However, the front triggering this activity is expected to stall to the north of Florida, thereby keeping most of this activity spotty and weak. The rest of Florida will likely be warm and dry on Thursday, with temperatures slightly above average for this time of year thanks to a broad southerly flow.

The warm and dry weather will continue across most of Florida Friday. High temperatures will trend several degrees above average, averaging near 80 across the Florida Peninsula, with upper 70s expected in the panhandle.

Changes will begin Saturday across northern sections of the state, ahead of what will become the next storm system that is likely to affect the Southeast Sunday and Monday. Scattered showers and a few thunderstorms are in the forecast from Pensacola to Tallahassee Saturday, followed by more numerous downpours and a few stronger thunderstorms ahead of a second cold front late Sunday.

The front moving across Florida Sunday and Monday may be strong enough to produce severe thunderstorms and gusty winds, although there are too many unknown factors that prevent a more confident forecast on this occurring at the present time. Airport travel may also be slowed across a large portion of the country by this storm Sunday, especially across the Ohio Valley where winter precipitation is expected.

A Hurricane Warning and a Storm Surge Warning have been issued for the Florida Keys and Florida Bay ahead of Tropical Storm Eta.

Data from a Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds have increased to 65 mph and additional strengthening is possible during the next 48-hours. Eta could become a Category 1 hurricane before it reaches the Florida Keys late Sunday.

A Storm Surge Warning is also in effect from the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay. A Storm Surge Watch continues for coastal areas from Golden Beach to Bonita Beach, including Biscayne Bay.

A Hurricane Watch continues to be in effect for coastal areas from Deerfield Beach to Bonita Beach. Tropical Storm Warnings were also issued in anticipation of strong winds and heavy rain that are expected to arrive Sunday. The warning includes the Florida coast from the Brevard and Volusia County line to Englewood including Lake Okeechobee. This includes the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Naples metro areas, along with all of the Florida Keys and Key West.

NO CURRENT STORMS IN ATLANTIC BASIN

Eta was continuing to move towards the north over central Cuba early Sunday morning, and is expected to move into the Florida Straits by Sunday afternoon. A gradual turn towards the north-northwest is anticipated Sunday afternoon, followed by a northwestward turn in the evening. The National Hurricane Center anticipates the center of Eta to pass near or over the Florida Keys late Sunday night and early Monday before moving into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico late Monday and Tuesday.

By midweek, uncertainty remains too high to make a credible projection on where or whether Eta might make a second landfall across portions of northern Florida or dissipate entirely. However, confidence is high that upper-level steering currents are likely to weaken, thereby causing Eta to move extremely slow or even stall Wednesday or Thursday over the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Where Flood Risk is Highest

Inland fresh-water flooding is still the greatest hazard from Eta in South Florida, especially across Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties where soils are saturated and many bodies of water are already full from a very wet October. Pockets of heavy rain were already observed spreading over much of South Florida Saturday, well removed from Tropical Storm Eta's main area of thunderstorm activity south of Cuba. The rain is only expected to become steadier and heavier Sunday night and Monday as the center of Eta moves closer.

The highest rainfall accumulations from Eta will likely occur south of Interstate 75 from Naples to Miami, and in the Florida Keys, where 8 to 12 inches is expected to fall by Friday, with isolated amounts up to 18 inches possible. Rainfall totals in southeast Florida may exceed ten inches over the next three days, with 4 to 8 inches most likely near and southeast of a line from Naples to Fort Pierce, Florida. Lesser rainfall amounts of 2 to 5 inches are expected near and north of a line from Fort Myers to Melbourne, although uncertainty remains on how much rain may fall beyond Tuesday depending on the eventual track and strength of Eta in the eastern Gulf.

Sporadic Power Outages Likely

Sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph, with gusts up to 60 mph, are most likely to arrive in southeast Florida near Miami and the upper Keys late Sunday evening. Winds of this strength are possible in southwest Florida near Naples by early Monday morning. Sporadic power outages from down trees or power lines should be planned for in these areas when the strongest winds arrive. The highest gusts are most likely to accompany the heaviest rain bands, which could arrive well before the center of Eta passes nearby. If Eta intensifies further as it approaches the Florida Keys, winds gusts may climb up towards 70 mph.

Surge Threat Prompts Evacuations

A storm surge of 2 to 4 feet is possible in from Golden Beach to Bonita Beach, which includes the Florida Keys and Biscayne Bay. A mandatory evacuation order was given by Monroe County officials for mobile homes, trailers, and campers. Several shelters were also made available for residents by the Monroe County emergency management Sunday afternoon.

A storm surge of 1 to 2 feet is possible farther north along the Treasure, Space and First Coasts. Coastal flooding is expected in these areas even though they may be hundreds of miles from Eta's track due to the strong and persistent onshore flow out of the east-southeast. The uncertainties around Tropical Storm Eta's eventual track and strength make a credible storm surge forecast across west-central Florida and along the Nature Coast not possible at this time.

Additional Impacts

Brief, fast-moving isolated tornadoes will be possible from Eta across most of South Florida Sunday, then potentially for areas farther north into Central Florida on Monday. The tornado risk will be contingent on where the strongest rain bands move in association with the areas of greatest spin. Large waves and high surf are also anticipated from the storm on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from Tropical Storm Eta, increasing the risk of rip currents at all area beaches. Swimmers and boaters are encouraged to stay docked and out of the water until Eta dissipates or moves away sometime late next week.

Meteorologists from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will continue to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Eta through the weekend, and frequent updates will be available via the Florida Storms social media accounts or in the Florida Storms app.

Expires at 11:00am on Monday November 9th, 2020

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