- Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in the Florida Keys at Lower Matecumbe Key on Sunday night.
- Eta is the 12th named storm to hit U.S. shores this year, an all-time record for landfalls.
- Eta could approach the Florida Gulf Coast later this week as a tropical storm.
It is finally Florida’s turn to feel the wrath of the 2020 hurricane season.
Tropical Storm Eta made landfall in the Florida Keys at Lower Matecumbe Key on Sunday night with winds estimated at 65 mph. The storm landed in Florida just days after hitting Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane, leaving scores of people dead and hundreds missing in Mexico and Central America.
Rain from the storm flooded much of South Florida over the weekend.
“Never seen this, never, not this deep,” said Anthony Lyas, who has lived in his now-waterlogged Fort Lauderdale neighborhood since 1996. He described hearing water and debris slamming against his shuttered home overnight.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis called it a 100-year rain event.
Eta is the 12th named storm to hit U.S. shores this year, an all-time record for landfalls, according to Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. It’s also the first landfalling tropical storm in Florida in November since Mitch in 1998, he said.
There was more history late Monday: The National Hurricane Center reported a record-breaking 29th named storm this season.
Subtropical Storm Theta has emerged in the open northeast Atlantic Ocean but poses no immediate threat to land, forecasters said. Theta, which was moving east at 15 mph, had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph as of 10 p.m. EST.
The center said Theta broke a previous record of 28 named storms set in 2005.
Although the center of Eta was offshore, bands of heavy rain and gusty winds will continue to feed into the Florida Keys and the Florida Peninsula, the Weather Channel said.
But after the storm spent several days in the Gulf this week, the Hurricane Center said it could still be a threat. “Eta could approach the Florida Gulf Coast later this week as a tropical storm, and possibly bring impacts from rain, wind and storm surge.”
Eta had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph on Monday night and was centered about 90 miles north-northwest of the western tip of Cuba, the Hurricane Center said. It was moving southwest at 9 mph.
Florida officials had closed beaches, ports and COVID-19 testing sites, shut down public transportation and urged residents to stay off the street as the storm approached. Several shelters also opened in Miami and the Florida Keys for residents in mobile homes and low-lying areas.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had declared a state of emergency Saturday for eight counties at the end of the state as Eta approached, urging residents to stock up on supplies.
On Sunday, the storm swelled rivers and flooded coastal zones in Cuba, where 25,000 had been evacuated. But there were no reports of deaths.
Authorities in Central America were still surveying the damage Monday after days of torrential rain. Official death tolls totaled at least 68 people, but hundreds more were missing.
Searchers in Guatemala were still digging for people believed buried by a massive, rain-fueled landslide. Authorities on Sunday raised the known death toll there to 27 from 15 and said more than 100 were missing in Guatemala, many of them in a landslide in San Cristobal Verapaz.
At least 20 people also were reported dead in southern Mexico and local officials in Honduras reported 21, though the national disaster agency had confirmed only eight.
Contributing: The Associated Press