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  • Writer's pictureBryan Norcross


The tropical disturbance moving into the central Caribbean south of the Dominican Republic is showing signs of organization. It is likely to become organized enough to be designated a tropical depression or tropical storm in the next day or two. If peak winds in the circulation reach 40 mph, it will be named Tropical Storm Eta – Eta being letter in the Greek alphabet after Zeta.

If this happens, and it appears likely, this will be the 28th named storm of the year, and the first time a storm has been named Eta. In 2005, a total of 28 named storms also formed, but one wasn’t upgraded and named during the season, so the last storm that got a name that year was Tropical Storm Zeta. The unnamed storm was discovered after the season’s data was reexamined in the spring of the following year.

Tropical Storm Zeta in 2005 formed on December 30th on the other side of the Atlantic. This year, it looks like we’ll reach the 28-storm threshold a full 2 months sooner. This means, of course, there’s lots of time to break the record.

The upper-level environment is forecast to be supportive of development into early next week as the system approaches the area near the Honduras/Nicaragua border. A damaging storm is possible there, especially due to heavy rain over the mountainous areas.

The computer forecast models are fairly consistent in their projections over the next 4 or 5 days, but after that things get a little murky.

Many of the long-range computer forecasts steer the system – likely Tropical Storm Eta – into Central America where it is torn up over the mountainous terrain. A high-pressure system is forecast to move across Texas driving a strong cold front through South Florida on Monday, blocking the tropical system, and potentially shoving it into the mountains.

That’s the logical outcome, although some other possibilities exist. If the system is late arriving in the Uncertainty Zone near Central America, or the high isn’t quite as strong as generally forecast, it could sit near the coastline and fester. Once the blocking high moves out of the way, a variety of things could happen, especially if the storm stays fairly strong.

Some of the long-range computer forecasts move the storm to the north in some fashion. It varies with the exact location of the storm when it reaches the Uncertainty Zone, the strength of the high-pressure system, and other factors accounting for the different long-range forecasts.

For now, just appreciate the coming cold fronts and keep an eye to the south.

The first front in a series has reached South Florida. The milkiness you see on the satellite is the significantly cooler air over the Gulf of Mexico. (Nighttime satellites actually measure temperatures instead of detecting clouds directly.) You can see that the edge of the milkiness – the front – is right over South Florida. It appears that the oomph behind this first front is not going to be sufficient to push it much farther south, so the boundary between the cool air to the north and the tropical air to the south will remain right over us. The result is that bands of rain will stay in the forecast this weekend.

A much stronger surge will come along just after the weekend, however, that should push much cooler, drier air over the entire state. It’s the high-pressure behind that front that we are counting on to hold likely-Eta to the south, and eventually kill it off.

For now, enjoy the coming cooler weather. Election Day looks generally sunny and cool across Florida. But stay aware of what’s going on to the south.


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