Meteorologists: Eta’s path remains uncertain

Meteorologists for the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (FPREN) say that tropical storm Eta is showing more uncertainty than normal and it won’t be until Wednesday that a clear path projection can be made.

Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne said the strength of the storm over time will determine what direction it will take. As of 9 a.m. on Nov. 9th, bands from the storm brought flash flooding to Miami-Dade and Lee counties and that put the heartland areas of the state at risk.

According to Hawthorne, if the storm remains strong, it will be steered more toward the north. But if it remains weaker and closer to the ocean surface, the storm will move west over the Gulf of Mexico.

Many factors are at play affecting the storm including the latitude winds in the Midwest.

“Disturbances in the Midwest could nudge or break down the high pressure bridge and steer Eta north,” Hawthorne reported. It’s a delicate balance and may be another day or two before a clear path can be estimated, he said.

“The amount of uncertainty way above normal, prepare as if it’s the worst case scenario,” Hawthorne said.

Meteorologist Jeff Huffman said the southern Florida Keys were spared when the storm went further north overnight. “We’ve seen wilder, but for a storm this close to land, it’s pretty scary,” Huffman said.

“It’s okay for us to admit we don’t know,” Huffman said about the complicated Spaghetti models that show more than a dozen possible storm path projections. “Even the Hurricane Center is making adjustments.

Hawthorne agreed. “What happens beyond Wednesday is really an unknown,” Hawthorne said.

“If the storm takes eastern side edge of the cone, shear might be less,” Hawthorne said. “If it tracks west to the Gulf of Mexico, enough dry air could join the circulation.”

Referring to the numerous tangled Spaghetti models, Huffman said, “Because of the uncertainty, we’ve outlined the potential scenarios. Now the Hurricane Hunters will collect data and then decisions can be made.”

Hawthorne noted that the bands of heavy rain are hitting Miame-Dade County and north and west.

“The big thing this morning is the flash flooding in Miami-Dade and Lee counties and into the heartland,” he said. “We are quite sure of the life-threatening flooding over Florida this morning and this afternoon.”

A briefing released by Levy County Emergency Management Director David Peaton on Monday (Nov. 9) at 8 a.m. reported that the center of Eta was 125 miles southwest of Fort Myers and the movement was west-northwest. The intensity of the storm by 4 a.m. was 65 mph.

“Levy County Emergency Management is continuing to track and monitor Tropical Storm Eta. The track, intensity, and potential for impacts are still very much in the air. Additionally, this is going to be a storm we are going to be dealing with for a long time, probably all week, maybe even into the weekend,” Peaton stated in his report. His next update will be at 8 p.m. tonight (Nov. 9th.)

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