Tampa Bay Now Under Tropical Storm Watch

TAMPA BAY, FL — Tampa Bay is now under a tropical storm watch after Tropical Storm Eta’s track shifted significantly to the east.

Tropical storm conditions, with sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph, are possible in the Tampa Bay area within 48 hours.

No evacuations have been ordered at this time.

Tropical Storm Eta is in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico and will lift north-northeast over the next couple of days. This will allow tropical storm conditions to be possible across portions of west central Florida, with heavy rainfall, tropical storm force winds and dangerous marine conditions also possible through the end of the week.

As a result, a tropical storm watch has been issued for the west coast of Florida from Englewood northward to the Suwannee River. A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area, generally within 48 hours.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for coastal Citrus, coastal Hernando, coastal Hillsborough, coastal Levy, coastal Manatee, coastal Pasco, coastal Sarasota, and Pinellas counties.

According to the National Weather Service, Eta is positioned 430 miles south-southwest of Cedar Key and about 340 miles south-southwest of the mouth of Tampa Bay.

At 3 p.m., Tropical Storm Eta was moving at 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast through Thursday morning, and Eta could be near hurricane strength by Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Gradual weakening is expected to begin Thursday afternoon or evening.

A motion toward the north or north-northeast is forecast through Wednesday night, followed by a turn toward the northeast on Thursday. On the forecast track, the center of Eta will move parallel to but offshore of the Florida west coast on Thursday and move near or over Apalachee Bay Thursday night and Friday.

Tropical storm-force winds extend 60 miles from the center of the storm.

Eta is expected to produce the following rainfall amounts Tuesday night of 1 to 2 inches, with isolated maximum storm total accumulations of 15 to 20 inches.

Portions of West Florida, including the Tampa Bay area could get 1 to 2 inches, with isolated totals of 4 inches.

Flash and urban flooding is possible in South Florida, especially across previously inundated areas, and eventually along portions of West Florida.

Tropical storm conditions are possible in the tropical storm watch area along the Florida west coast by Thursday afternoon.

Swells generated by Eta are expected southern and western Florida, and the Florida Keys during the next day or so. These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current
conditions.

Prepare for dangerous wind having possible significant impacts across coastal locations from Englewood north. Potential impacts in this area include:

  • Some damage to roofing and siding materials, along with damage to porches, awnings, carports, and sheds.

  • A few buildings experiencing window, door and garage door failures.

  • Mobile homes damaged, especially if unanchored.

  • Unsecured lightweight objects become dangerous projectiles.

  • Several large trees snapped or uprooted, but with greater numbers in places where trees are shallow rooted.

  • Several fences and roadway signs blown over.

  • Some roads impassable from large debris, and more within urban or heavily wooded places.

  • A few bridges, causeways and access routes impassable.

  • Scattered power and communications outages, but more prevalent in areas with above-ground lines.

Also prepare for locally hazardous rainfall flooding having possible limited impacts across much of west central and southwest Florida. Potential impacts include:

  • Localized rainfall flooding may prompt a few evacuations.

  • Rivers and tributaries may quickly rise with swifter currents. Small streams, creeks, canals and ditches may become swollen and overflow in spots.

  • Flood waters can enter a few structures, especially in usually vulnerable spots.

  • A few places where rapid ponding of water occurs at underpasses, low-lying spots, and poor drainage areas.

  • Several storm drains and retention ponds become near-full and begin to overflow.

  • Some brief road and bridge closures.

Prepare for locally hazardous surge having possible limited impacts at the beaches. Potential impacts in this area include:

  • Localized inundation with storm surge flooding mainly along immediate shorelines and in low-lying spots, or in areas farther inland near where higher surge waters move ashore.

  • Sections of near-shore roads and parking lots become overspread with surge water. Driving conditions dangerous in places where surge water covers the road.

  • Moderate beach erosion. Heavy surf also breaching dunes, mainly in usually vulnerable locations. Strong rip currents.

  • Minor to locally moderate damage to marinas, docks, boardwalks, and piers. A few small craft broken away from moorings.

If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately.

Now is the time to check your emergency plan and emergency supplies kit and take necessary actions to protect your family and secure your home or business. When making safety and preparedness decisions, do not focus on the exact forecast track since hazards such as flooding rain, damaging wind gusts, storm surge and tornadoes extend well away from the center of the storm.

If in a place that is vulnerable to high wind, such as near large trees, a manufactured home, upper floors of a high-rise building or on a boat, plan to move to safe shelter.

If you live in a place particularly vulnerable to flooding, such as near the ocean or a large inland lake, in a low-lying or poor drainage area, or near an already swollen river, plan to move to safe shelter on higher ground.

Always heed the advice of local officials and comply with orders that are issued. Do not needlessly jeopardize your life or the lives of others.

If you are a visitor, know the name of the county in which you are located and where it is relative to current watches and warnings. If staying at a hotel, ask the management staff about their onsite disaster plan. Listen for evacuation orders, especially pertaining to area visitors.

Closely monitor weather.gov, the NOAA Weather Radio and local news outlets for official storm information.

In Pinellas County

The Pinellas County’s Emergency Operations Center is open and remains at Level 2 activation. Pinellas is monitoring the progress of the storm and has opened its County Information Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Call 727-464-4333 or, for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, chat online.

The Tropicana Field coronavirus testing site remains open on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon. Please note that staff at the site had to cut off the line at 2 p.m. today to ensure everyone in line could get tested.

The COVID-19 testing site at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater will be open from 7 to 10 a.m. Wednesday.

  • Prepare for possible heavy winds by bringing in outside items that could blow around, such as lawn furniture, flower pots, garden décor, etc.

  • Register for emergency alerts.

  • Locate your evacuation zone.

  • Finalize preparedness plans.

  • Monitor the National Weather Service and the Pinellas County Government website and social media.

  • Download the Ready Pinellas app for iOS and Android.

  • If you need access to special needs shelters and have not yet registered this year, preregister by calling 727-464-4333 during County Information Center hours or go to the website.

  • Prepare your kit: be sure to include face coverings, sanitizer and necessary hygiene supplies, and gather important papers.

  • Review your checklist online.

In Pasco County

Pasco County’s Department of Emergency Management is closely monitoring Tropical Storm Eta and is urging residents to be prepared for the possibility of heavy rain and wind in the coming days. Store and secure loose items around your home and yard.

Pasco County now has four, self-serve sandbag stations open 24 hours to help protect your property from potential flooding. Sand and bags are available at the following locations:

Note: Sandbag locations are open 24 hours to Pasco County residents; however, sand will only be restocked between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. You should bring a shovel and be prepared to fill your own sandbags. Learn how to use sandbags effectively in this brief video.

Pasco County reminds you to double-check your Disaster Kit, and make sure you know your evacuation zone, which you can find in the Pasco County Disaster Preparedness Guide.

For more information about preparing for disasters – including how to sign up for emergency notifications through Alert Pasco, visit the Pasco County Department of Emergency Management website.

In Hillsborough County

Click here for Hillsborough County information.

In Manatee County

Click here for Manatee County information.

In Sarasota County

Click here for Sarasota County information.

See related stories:

This article originally appeared on the Clearwater Patch

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