Tropical Storm Eta is lashing the Caribbean with torrential rainfall and damaging winds on Saturday as it approaches Cuba.
The storm is currently moving northeast away from the Cayman Islands and toward central Cuba at 13 mph. The storm is expected to sustain winds of 65 mph with tropical storm-force winds extending up to 115 miles out from the storm’s center.
The center of the storm is forecast to cross central Cuba Saturday evening and approach south Florida and the Florida Keys on Sunday. Eta will then pass near or over south Florida and the Florida Keys Sunday night and Monday, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
Tropical storm conditions are forecast by late Sunday in the Florida Keys and along portions of the southeast Florida coast, according to the hurricane center.
“Some weakening is possible after landfall in Cuba overnight, but Eta is forecast to re-strengthen later on Sunday and could be near hurricane strength as it approaches and moves near or over Florida,” the center said.
Isolated rainfall totals of more than 2 feet are possible for both Cuba and the Cayman Islands through the middle of next week. These high rainfall totals could lead to life-threatening flash floods and landslides in areas with higher terrain. A dangerous storm surge of 2 to 4 feet is also forecast along the coast of Cuba near where Eta makes landfall Sunday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for eight counties on Saturday as Eta approaches
A tropical storm warning also is in effect for the Cayman Islands, portions of central Cuba and the northwestern Bahamas.
Eta made landfall along the coast of Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane on Tuesday afternoon. It brought more than 2 feet of rain to parts of Nicaragua and Honduras this week. Another 2 to 5 inches of rain is still in the forecast for Saturday.