As the 2020 hurricane season draws to a close, tropical storm Eta draws closer to Florida. NOAA announced at 3:00 p.m. CST on Nov. 10 that sections of Florida’s west coast are under a tropical storm watch.
Eckerd is continually monitoring the path and strength of the storm as the school’s Emergency Management Executive Team continues to send out updates to students about protocols and how to stay safe.
As of Nov. 10, the team has sent five emails. While the original forecast determined that Eta had a chance of intensifying and hitting Eckerd, the most recent email described Eta’s newly-forecasted path through the Gulf of Mexico and how it is expected to weaken as it heads towards Florida, bringing light winds and rain.
Eta has gone through the Caribbean with heavy winds and rain, causing deadly landslides and flooding in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Eta has also had a large impact in Florida, causing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to close on Monday, Nov. 9 until 1 p.m.
According to the National Hurricane Center, Eta is on a northeast path through the Gulf of Mexico toward eastern Florida as of Nov. 10, and expected to continue bringing heavy rain and wind to the St. Petersburg area.
For some Eckerd students, Eta isn’t on their mind. Sophomore Carson Fritchie said he’s not worried about it, and enjoys big storms.
“It just feels like a big storm from back home,” Fritchie, who is from southern Illinois, said.
Sophomore Conner Pinder agrees. From Nassau, Bahamas, Pinder has been through large storms, such as Hurricane Joaquin and Hurricane Matthew.
“This is nothing. Just some showers and a breeze,” Pinder said.
Eta claimed over 130 lives in Central America as of Nov. 7, according to Weather.com. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projects that Eta has the chance to slow down and strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico.
Currently, NOAA is monitoring a subtropical storm in the northeastern Atlantic that they project has an 80% chance of becoming a tropical storm, if not a hurricane, named Theta. This storm makes 2020 the most active hurricane season on record with 30 named storms during the season.
NOAA is also following a tropical wave off the coast of Venezuela that has a 50% chance of becoming a storm named Iota. As Eckerd students prepare for a windy week, Eta continues to be a significant force in southern Florida and the rest of the Caribbean.