Eta reaches hurricane strength in the Gulf
Eta is briefly strengthening, but expected to weaken before landfall
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) - UPDATE 11-11-20 9:00am - Eta has strengthened this morning to a Cat1 Hurricane. However, as it continues its north to northeasterly track nearing the Peninsula of Florida later today and into tonight, it will move into cooler coastal shelf and Northern Gulf waters. Combined with a cold front and trough in the upper levels of the atmosphere, bringing strong winds aloft from the southwest, with the cooler waters and we should see Eta slowly lose strength before making landfall in the Southern Big Bend, perhaps near the Cedar Key area on Thursday. Because of the cold front and upper level shear on the western side of Eta, we won’t see much, if any, impacts from Eta here in NWFL.
Update on impacts expected from today through Thursday for NWFL...
1. A few passing showers, only adding up to a quarter to a half inch of rain for those who catch a shower today or tonight.
2. Slightly breezy winds pick up Thursday from the north at 10-20mph.
3. Rough surf and waves in the Gulf, high rip currents, as well as, some minor beach erosion will be possible especially along Franklin County.
UPDATE 11-10-20 9:00pm - Tropical Storm Eta is in the Southern Gulf of Mexico this evening and appears to be getting a little bit better organized. The strengthening is expected to be temporary as wind shear, cool SSTs, and dry air are expected to significantly weaken the system as it approaches the northern gulf coast. Models did trend east today and and continued that east shift this evening. As a result we saw another NHC track shift east toward the peninsula tonight. If that forecast holds, NWFL would see minimal impacts from Eta. That being said, the forecast for Eta has been very problematic and we will need to continue to monitor it.
For now the impacts we expect in our area would be...
1. At most, 1-2″ of rain mainly east of the Apalachicola River
2. Rough surf/beach erosion
3. Breezy condition
UPDATE 11-10-20 8am - Tropical Storm Eta is in the Southern Gulf of Mexico this morning with a slow southerly drift as it strengthens in warmer waters and favorable atmospheric conditions. We’ll eventually see this system take a more northerly track today as the primary steering from high pressure over the Mid Atlantic states and Western Atlantic gradually weakens. Harsher conditions lie ahead for Eta as it slowly treks north. With relatively cooler Northern Gulf waters ahead and higher shear along a cold front and trough sweeping in from the west across the Northern Gulf, Eta will diminish to a weak tropical storm or depression, or maybe even sputter out completely, by the late week or weekend. Effects, if any, for NWFL from Eta appear minimal as we may only see a breezy day with a few scattered showers by Saturday or Sunday if the trends hold true.
UPDATE 11-9-20 8am- Tropical Storm Eta is moving westerly away from the Florida Peninsula in the Southern Gulf of Mexico today. Eventually, we’ll see it head more on a west southwesterly track as a ridge of high pressure to the north briefly steers it out into the Gulf. The Southern Gulf, in the mid 80s, is warmer than the Northern Gulf, near 80°, and those warmer waters should lead toward Eta strengthening to a hurricane over the next few days as steering flow in the atmosphere becomes weaker. At the same time, a cold front and troughing pattern takes shape in the Western Gulf, and that should start to steer Eta to the north through the midweek. Models diverge from here as to whether the trough and cold front are strong enough to push Eta further north into possibly the Florida Big Bend by late Friday into Saturday. Or, the trough is to weak and does not pick up the tropical system and we’d see it drift further west in the Gulf of Mexico through the weekend.
We should know more about which track will be the correct one through the next 24-48hrs. At this point, if it were to head northward toward the Big Bend, impacts here in NWFL would likely be minimal as we’d expect it to be a weaker system in the relatively cooler Gulf waters and detrimental shear from the trough, perhaps a tropical storm with 50mph winds.
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