Tropical storm Eta strengthened to a category 1 hurricane early Wednesday morning and is expected to make another landfall soon. Eta is not forecasted to directly hit Sarasota, but the county has drafted a local state of emergency declaration.
2020 was tied with 2005 for having the most named storms in a year, but as of Monday afternoon, it officially holds the record. Tropical Storm Theta formed in the Atlantic yesterday, and while it currently poses no real threat to land, it has officially become the twenty-ninth named storm.
Sarasota County schools and offices were closed on Nov. 9 as a precaution and the Florida Department of Transportation shut down the Sunrise Skyway bridge due to high wind speeds. The schools and offices reopened on Nov. 10 and the bridge was opened Monday evening. Public works cleared storm drains in preparation to reduce flooding and are on call for debris pick up.
Eta, which peaked as a Category 4 hurricane, already caused massive damage in Central America. At least 150 people are dead or missing due to the storm in Guatemala. Rescue and relief efforts are ongoing and the death toll is expected to rise.
In the US, the highest sustained winds were tracked at 66 miles per hour, which caused thousands to be without power in South Florida. However, flooding has been the area’s biggest concern, with Miami reporting at least 16 inches of rain in some areas. Six to 12 more inches of rain are expected in the region.
The storm is slow moving and following an uncertain path. Though Sarasota is unlikely to be in the direct path of Eta, residents should still be wary of the storm and heed warnings from state and city officials.