The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued Hurricane and Storm Surge Warnings on Sunday, November 8, for the Florida Keys from Key Largo to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay as Tropical Storm Eta is expected to intensify and impact large sections of the archipelago after passing over central Cuba earlier in the day. The NHC advisory as of 13:00 (EST) reports the storm approximately 50mi (80km) north of the Cuban province of Sancti Spiritus moving north-northwest at 17mph (27kph) with maximum sustained winds of 65mph (105kph). A further turn to the northwest is expected over the coming hours.
Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers has declared a state of local emergency ahead of Eta's arrival, adding that it potentially has the conditions for further strengthening into a Category-1 hurricane. A storm surge of 2-3ft (0.6-0.9M) above high tide is expected along the windward side of the Keys, with localized flooding expected in low-lying areas. County officials are encouraging residents living in mobile homes and aboard vessels to evacuate by 17:00 (local time) on Sunday. Key West High School has opened as an emergency shelter with everyone arriving to receive rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) tests. Tourists have been asked to remain in their hotels until after the storm's passing. State Parks will be closed on Sunday and Monday.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from late May through to the end of November, with activity typically peaking in late August and early September. Numerous tropical storms form in the Atlantic Ocean during this period, with most affecting the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the east coast of the United States. Although communities in the region are generally well prepared for adverse weather conditions during the hurricane season, severe storms bring a significant risk of flooding and infrastructural damage.
Those in the South Florida area are advised to monitor local weather reports, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.
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