Florida's Gulf Coast Braces For Hurricane Eta Landfall

Maria Goncalves

The west coast of Florida braces for another hurricane to make landfall as tropical storm Eta strengthened once again.

The storm became a Category 1 hurricane just over the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday morning, and it is now around 170 miles from the Tampa area in central Florida, according to a CNN report. Eta hit Central America just over a week ago as a Category 4 hurricane, ravaging through Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, causing mass destruction and death.

As per CNN, the hurricane is now set to hit Florida's Gulf Coast in the next 24 hours, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said. It is still possible that it becomes stronger before it reaches land.

There is a hurricane watch along 120 miles on the state's west coast, from Anna Maria Island to Yankeetown, with scientists expecting tropical-storm-force winds to descend on the area by late Wednesday and for the hurricane to make landfall early Thursday.

It is likely that the hurricane will bring heavy downpours, river flooding and landslides to the Florida coast. The Guardian reported that the southern state already experienced heavy rain after storm Eta crossed over to the gulf on Sunday, with cities like Fort Lauderdale being hit the hardest.

"It was far worse than we could've ever imagined, and we were prepared," student and Fort Lauderdale resident Arbie Walker told The Guardian.

Eta has made four landfalls already. It first came down as a Category 4 hurricane in Central America, where it killed almost 70 people. It then moved over to Cuba and afterward to Lower Matecumbe Key, on the upper Florida Keys, last Sunday. However, heavily populated areas such as Miami-Dade and Broward Counties have experienced the strongest effects of the storm so far.

According to a previous Guardian report, Eta resulted in the closure of one of the largest COVID-19 testing centers in the Miami area after it suffered major damage from the storm. Florida was already hit by heavy rains in October when it experienced almost 14 inches of rain.

This year's hurricane season in the Atlantic broke a record for named storms, with 29 in total -- Eta was number 28, while storm Theta followed soon after. According to CNN, the previous highest number of 28 had been recorded in 2005. However, there are no warnings linked to Theta so far, as it is expected that it will eventually dissipate in open water.

Weather scientists had warned that a new phenomenon, called Zombie Storm, was starting. According to a previous The Inquisitr report, this term describes a storm that appears to have dissipated but then emerges again with renewed strength.