Tropical Storm Eta Threatens Florida, With More Storms Brewing

By  Natasha Lasky, ODP Contributing Writer

After a year of devastating storms, yet another storm, Tropical Storm Eta, drenches and batters Florida and Cuba. The storm has moved into the Gulf of Mexico where it is expected to meander and then move north toward the Florida coast again, where it could potentially inflict a series of dangerous weather events: flash-flooding in urban areas, river flooding in central Florida, 50 mph winds, and “a tornado or two,” according to an advisory released by The National Hurricane Center in Miami. In response to the approaching storm, Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, declared a state of emergency on Sunday. And flash flooding hampered Miami on Monday night, with more rain expected throughout the week because of Eta.  

Why this Matters: Eta is the first storm of 2020 to make landfall in Florida, and five named storms hit Louisiana, Hurricanes Delta, Laura, and Zeta, as well as Tropical Storms Cristobal and Marco.  There is yet another storm now forming in the Atlantic — it would be called Theta.  If it reaches tropical storm strength and gets a name, 2020 would become the busiest hurricane season on record, eclipsing the record previously set in 2005. Nevertheless, the Trump Administration today removed the civil servant who leads the creation of the National Climate Assessment — so its climate denial is as strong as ever.  

Climate Change Makes Hurricane Season More Challenging

As climate change worsens, we have seen a greater frequency of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes, storm types that cause 85% of hurricane damage. A 2018 study suggested that the number of major cyclones (category 3, 4, and 5) would increase by 20% globally and 29% in the Atlantic by 2081-2100, with significant increases even sooner.

Tropical storm Eta has an unusually wide wind field, stretching up to 310 miles from the storm’s center. Because of this, though the storm arrived initially at Lower Matecumbe Key, the heavy rain and dangerous winds have reached Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties. Eta has caused brown and blackouts throughout Florida, and as of Monday afternoon, more than 36,200 households do not have power.  The storm will strengthen as it passes over the warmer Gulf waters, but is predicted not to quite reach hurricane strength winds — county governments across Florida canceled a hurricane watch, but a Tropical Storm Watch is in place. As of now, there are no orders to evacuate neighborhoods.

And as of now, the broad non-tropical area of low pressure that the National Hurricane Center is keeping an eye on, has a 70% of transforming into Tropical Storm Theta. That hurricane is not expected to hit the United States, instead, it will travel northeast.  But there is even another storm brewing behind that one — Iota — that could form within the week.

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