In true 2020 fashion, Hurricane Eta is proof of the fact that hurricane season doesn’t truly end until Nov. 30.
After passing over the Florida Keys as a tropical storm earlier this week, Eta is reforming and forecast to make landfall north of Tampa as a Category 1 hurricane tracking north northeast across the state. The storm is expected to weaken from landfall forward, becoming a tropical depression over north Florida.
Volusia County is under a tropical storm watch and is expected to see impacts from the system Thursday. Sustained winds are forecast at 15 to 20 mph, reaching 25 to 30 mph in the most northwest part of the county. Passing squalls could produce gusts up to 45 mph.
One to 2 inches of rain is expected, with higher amounts in pockets. There is a risk for tornadoes, with the highest chance in the northwest portion of the county.
“If you haven’t done so already, secure items around your property—take down wind chimes, flags and hanging plants, and move trash cans and lawn furniture indoors,” said Jim Judge, Volusia County’s emergency management director. “If you already did this for the first passing of Eta on Monday, wait to put things back out. As we always say, storms are unpredictable, and any change in the track can make a difference with conditions for our county.”
Volusia County Emergency Management officials continue to monitor Eta. The team is in close communication with the Florida Division of Emergency Management and National Weather Service Office in Melbourne, as well as local municipalities.
Trash cans and port-o-lets removed from the beach in preparation for Monday’s inclement weather will not be replaced until after the passing of Eta. Damage has been reported at the north jetty in Ponce Inlet, making it difficult to access.
Beach driving may be permitted Thursday, but is likely to close by early afternoon in advance on the 5:14 p.m. high tide. Beach Safety will fly the red flag through the weekend, indicating high surf and strong rip currents.
Large amounts of seaweed can already be found along the beach and this is only expected to increase.
Because of the time of year, small turtles, called washbacks, are often caught in this seaweed.
Individuals who find washbacks should not put the animal back in the ocean or in water. Instead, make sure the turtle is out of harm’s way in a quiet, dry, shaded area and call Beach Safety at 386-239-6414. Between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., call the Volusia Sheriff’s Office at 386-248-1777, ext. 6.
Residents can prepare and stay informed for this and future emergency situations by downloading the Volusia County EM app, available free on the Google Play or App Store. Residents can also follow Volusia County Emergency Management on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates related to Volusia County.