What's the 28th named storm in 2020? Eta may intensify into hurricane before making landfall in Central America

Eta is the 28th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season and ties the record for most named storms in a single Atlantic hurricane season, previously set in 2005


                            What's the 28th named storm in 2020? Eta may intensify into hurricane before making landfall in Central America
(Getty Images)

A tropical depression in the Caribbean has strengthened into tropical storm Eta and is forecast to make landfall in Central America as a hurricane. While it is expected to develop into a hurricane by early Monday morning (November 2), additional strengthening is forecast thereafter. Eta is expected to be a major hurricane before it reaches the northeastern coast of Nicaragua on Monday night or early on Tuesday, where a hurricane warning is in effect. A tropical storm warning is currently in effect for a portion of the northeastern coast of Honduras, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

"A hurricane warning is in effect for the coast of Nicaragua, from the Honduras/Nicaragua border to Sandy Bay Sirpi. A tropical storm warning is in effect for the northeastern coast of Honduras, from Punta Patuca to the Honduras/Nicaragua border. A hurricane watch is in effect for the northeastern coast of Honduras from Punta Patuca to the Honduras/Nicaragua border. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the northern coast of Honduras from west of Punta Patuca westward to Punta Castilla," said the NHC advisory issued at 1 am EST (0600 UTC) on November 2.

A hurricane warning implies that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area. A warning is typically issued 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds, conditions that make outside preparations difficult or dangerous. A tropical storm warning suggests that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours.

At 1 am EST on November 2, the center of Eta was located near latitude 14.9 north and longitude 80.4 west. Eta is moving toward the west nearly 13 miles per hour (20 km/hour), and this general motion is expected to continue through November 2 morning. A slower motion toward the west-southwest is forecast by November 2 afternoon and continuing into November 3.

"The maximum sustained winds are near 70 mph (110 km/h) with higher gusts. Strengthening, possibly rapid, is expected through early Tuesday, and Eta is expected to become a hurricane within the next few hours. On the forecast track, the center of Eta is expected to approach the northeastern coast of Nicaragua this (Monday) afternoon, and make landfall within the hurricane warning area in Nicaragua by early Tuesday. Eta is forecast to be a major hurricane when landfall occurs by early Tuesday. The center of Eta is forecast to move farther inland over northern Nicaragua through early Wednesday," the forecast reveals. 

A hurricane warning is in effect for the coast of Nicaragua, from the Honduras/Nicaragua border to Sandy Bay Sirpi (Getty Images)

Eta is the 28th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season and ties the record for most named storms in a single Atlantic hurricane season, previously set in 2005. However, this is the first time the Greek letter Eta is being used as a storm name because in 2005, after the season ended, scientists determined there was a storm that should have been named. 

The six-month Atlantic hurricane season still has almost a month to go, ending on November 30. In 2005, Zeta formed at the end of December. So far, the 2020 season has seen 11 hurricanes and Eta is expected to become the 12th. Only three other hurricane seasons on record have had 12 or more hurricanes, according to Dr Phil Klotzbach, a tropical scientist at Colorado State University. The most number of hurricanes in an Atlantic season is 15, a record that was set in 2005.



 

Experts, meanwhile, predict that through Friday evening (November 6), heavy rainfall from Eta will lead to catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding across portions of Central America, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain. Flash and river flooding is also possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti and the Cayman Islands.

Through Friday evening, Eta is expected to produce 15 to 25 inches (380 to 635 mm) of rainfall, as well as isolated amounts of 35 inches (890 mm) in much of Nicaragua and Honduras. Eastern Guatemala and southern Belize could experience 10 to 20 inches (255 to 510mm) of rain and isolated amounts of 25 inches (635 mm), while portions of Panama and Costa Rica may see 10 to 15 inches (255 to 380 mm) of rain. Jamaica and southeast Mexico may have 5 to 10 inches (125 to 255 mm) of rainfall and isolated amounts of 15 inches (380 mm) over southern areas.

"A life-threatening storm surge, along with damaging waves, is expected along portions of the northeastern coast of Nicaragua near and to the north of where the center makes landfall. Water levels could reach as high as 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels in some parts of the hurricane warning area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” advises NHC.

In May, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center had predicted a busy Atlantic hurricane season. The outlook was subsequently updated in August to suggest that there was an 85% chance of an above-normal hurricane season this year.

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