Tropical Storm Eta Varieties, Tying a Report Set 15 Years In the past
Tropical storm Eta spun over the Caribbean on Sunday and gained strength as it headed north. It became the 28th named storm of the hurricane season.
National Hurricane Center forecasters expect the storm to intensify into a hurricane as it approaches the coast of Central America early Tuesday. Hurricane clocks were displayed in parts of Nicaragua and Honduras where the center indicated that there was a risk of storm surges, hurricane winds and heavy rain.
The storm is expected to bring up to 15 inches of rain over Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and the south coast of Hispaniola. Eta could also drop up to 30 inches of rain over northern Honduras and northern Nicaragua, which could lead to life-threatening floods and landslides.
With Eta, the extremely active 2020 season was the record for most storms in 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma hit the Gulf Coast. This year so many storms became so severe that meteorologists had to resort to the Greek alphabet after exhausting the list of rotating names from the World Meteorological Organization.
The agency never came to Eta, however, as the 28th storm of this year was only identified after the end of the season and remained nameless. That last storm in 2005 was a subtropical storm that formed briefly in October near the Azores, a remote archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic.
“This is the first time Eta has been used in real time,” said Phil Klotzbach, a scientist at Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences in Fort Collins.
With the 2020 season only ending on November 30, it is very likely that the 2005 record for most of the storms mentioned will be broken, he said.
“The chances are another storm or two will form in November,” he said. “The large scale environment, particularly in the Caribbean, is expected to remain more favorable than normal at this late point in hurricane season.”
Eta followed Hurricane Zeta, which landed in Louisiana on October 28 as a Category 2 storm. At least six people were killed in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The hurricanes of 2020 did not reach the intensity of the storms of 2005. This year, eight storms became major hurricanes, defined as hurricanes that hit Category 3 or higher.
However, the effects of the 2020 season in the south have been widespread.
Hurricane Laura hit Lake Charles, La., In late August. Hurricane Sally hit the Florida Panhandle with a flood of rain in September. and in October, Hurricane Delta landed in Louisiana less than 20 miles east of Laura and struck the area while it was still trying to recover.
Hurricane Zeta lashed the Louisiana coast with heavy rain and high winds, causing widespread power outages in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Carolinas.
Government scientists had predicted an unusually busy hurricane season, which officially began on June 1st.
They pointed to factors such as above-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and the Caribbean, a strong African monsoon season, and decreased vertical wind shear, which means less wind variability at different altitudes, which can disrupt the formation of storms.
However, the number of storms mentioned even exceeded the National Hurricane Center’s original forecasts.
“Records should be broken,” said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman and meteorologist for the center in Miami. “But that’s not one I want to break.”
Henry Fountain, Christina Morales and Bryan Pietsch contributed to the coverage.