Tag Archive for: ETA

Hurricane Naming Changes

Hurricane naming is changing. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has retired the names of Hurricanes Laura, Eta, and Iota from 2020 and Dorian from 2019 because of the death and destruction they caused. WMO also eliminated use of the Greek alphabet when names based on the Latin alphabet are used up. Now, a second list of names, also keyed to the Latin alphabet will be available. In other words, we’ll go around twice with the Latin alphabet if necessary.

The Greek alphabet will not be used in the future because it creates a distraction from the communication of hazard and storm warnings and is potentially confusing.

World Meteorological Organization

Changes Result of Record-Breaking 2020 Season

Changes to hurricane naming conventions resulted from the record-breaking 2020 Atlantic season, according to the WMO.

The 2020 season got off to an early start with a nine named storms from May through July. And for the first time on record, it ended with two MAJOR storms in November. The season was so active that the Greek alphabet was used for only the second time; the first was in 2005.

How Retirement of Names Works

WMO rotates Atlantic tropical cyclone name lists every six years. However, extra-deadly storms can have their names retired and replaced.

“In total, 93 names have now been retired from the Atlantic basin list since 1953, when storms began to be named,” says WMO.

Recently retired Hurricane Names

Recap of Storms with Newly Retired Names

2019 – Dorian

Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane and the strongest to hit the Bahamas in modern times. “More than 75 percent of all homes on the island were damaged,” said WMO. The hurricane left 29,500 people homeless and/or jobless.

2020 – Laura

Category 4 Laura hit Louisiana with a 17 feet storm surge.  It killed 47 people in the United States and Hispaniola, and caused more than $19 billion in damage.

2020 – Eta & Iota

Hurricanes Eta and Iota hit Nicaragua two weeks apart in November last year. They caused extensive flooding in Central America, killed 272, can caused more than $9 billion in damages.

Reasons for Retiring Greek Alphabet

According to WMO, “The annual name list has been exhausted on two occasions during the past 15 years, and it is likely that this will occur again in the future.”

Because of problems associated with the Greek alphabet, WMO will substitute Latin-based A-Z names (excluding Q, U, X, Y, Z).

  • Confusion when translating Greek names into some languages. 
  • Too much focus on the novelty of Greek names detracts from safety messaging. 
  • Similarity of Zeta, Eta, Theta, which occur in succession resulted in storms with very similar sounding names occurring simultaneously. This caused confusion. 

WMO has already agreed on a supplemental list of Atlantic tropical cyclone names to replace the Greek names. It’s a little bizarre. I noted that they used “Pax.” Pax means stability and peace, not meanings I would normally associate with a Cat 5 hurricane!

Post by Bob Rehak on March 23, 2021, based on information from the World Meteorological Organization.

1302 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Iota Could Drop Another 20-30″ of Rain on Areas Just Devastated by Eta

Nicaragua and Honduras, devastated by Hurricane Eta just a little more than a week ago by up to 40 inches of rain, could see another 20 to 30 inches from Iota. Iota formed today in the central Caribbean.

Meanwhile, people in Central America are still digging out from landslides, trying to restore their homes from floods, and dealing with loss of crops, airports, roads and other infrastructure.

Two Major Hurricanes in Two Weeks

Eta hit Nicaragua a little more than a week ago as a Category 4 storm, killing at least 120 people in flash floods and landslides in Central America, according to the Associated Press.

Forecasters say that Iota could also rapidly intensify into a major hurricane, given ideal conditions in the Caribbean.

To put these monster rainfall totals into perspective, Harvey dumped an average of approximately 45 inches across 1000 square miles in the Houston Area. Three years later, we’re still trying to recover.

The combination of these two storms could mean 50% more rain in Central America than Houston received during Harvey.

Forecast track for Iota

NHC Forecast

The National Hurricane Center says that Iota’s maximum sustained winds have increased to near 40 mph with higher gusts. Steady to rapid strengthening is likely over the weekend, and the system is forecast to be a major hurricane when it approaches Central America.

Across remaining sections of Central America, the system has the potential to produce 20 to 30 inches of rain with a focus across northern Nicaragua and Honduras. This rainfall would lead to significant, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain.

The environment ahead of Iota appears to be quite conducive for intensification. The system will be moving over warm waters, in a moist atmosphere, and within an area of very low vertical wind shear. As a result, steady to rapid strengthening appears likely over the next few days.

Record-Setting Season

“Iota is the record 30th named storm of this year’s extraordinarily busy Atlantic hurricane season,” said the Associated Press.

Eta may also have tied or exceeded Gordon for the longest-lived tropical event. Gordon formed on November 8, 1994 and dissipated almost two weeks later on November 21. Hurricane Eta formed on October 31 this year and dissipated today, November 13. Thus, it may have lasted a day longer. However, the experts have not yet made an official announcement that I have seen.

Why Such a Busy Season?

Dr. Nelun Fernando, a climatologist writing for the Texas Water Development Board, says, that currently we are under the influence of La Niña. “You can think of El Niño and La Niña as two faces of the same coin, where the coin is a phenomenon known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (also referred to as ENSO).”I

“La Niña is associated with a more active Atlantic hurricane season,” he says. “This increased activity is because the vertical wind shear (the change in wind speed and direction with height) is weaker during a La Niña year, enabling tropical storms to develop vertically without impediment.”

In La Niña years, steering currents that could cause wind sheer shift farther north, letting more storms develop in the tropical Atlantic.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/13/2020

1172 Days After Hurricane Harvey

Eta Slimes Florida With Foot of Rain So Far, Sets New Record, More Storms May Follow

After killing more than 100 people in Central America, Eta made landfall across the Florida Keys overnight and has now moved west into the SE Gulf of Mexico. Numerous curved bands continue to rotate into southern Florida where more than 13 inches of rainfall has been recorded. Eta is the 12 landfalling tropical system on the US coast this season…the previous record was 9 in 1916.

This morning’s satellite image shows the eye of Eta visible in yesterday’s images has collapsed.

Meanwhile, two more storms are brewing in the Atlantic. One is heading away from land. The other, which has a 50% chance of formation in the next five days is moving into the central Caribbean.

Discussion of Eta

Eta’s made landfall on the middle Florida Keys late yesterday evening and has continued westward across Florida Bay and is now over the SE Gulf of Mexico. Eta has maintained well-defined circulation. The wind field has also expanded with tropical storm force winds extending well away from the center and well north along the Florida coast. 

The official forecast from the NHC takes Eta toward north Florida, but much divergence remains among the models.

ETA’s Track 

Eta will move west to WSW for the next 24 hours, then meander over the SE/E Gulf of Mexico into the middle of the week. The storm could stall over the warm waters of the Gulf loop current. But by later this week, a strong upper-level trough should turn Eta north and then northeast back toward Florida. However, forecast models vary widely. Confidence is low regarding the track forecast. Large changes remain possible. Little consensus exists between weather models.

TropicalTidbits.com shows wide divergence of models.
The South Florida Water Management District shows even less consensus.

Eta’s Intensity

Even though Eta is moving over warm waters, wind sheer and surrounding dry air should keep it in check. The official forecast brings Eta to a minimal hurricane over the SE Gulf of Mexico before weakening again late in the week. 

Other Storms

Two other areas of interest have developed in the Atlantic basin and 97L over the eastern Atlantic has a high chance of developing into a tropical system while the tropical wave approaching the Caribbean has a medium chance of developing later this week. The next tropical storm will break the previous record for the most tropical storms in an Atlantic hurricane season.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/9/2020

1168 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Eta Kills At Least 57 in Central America

The National Hurricane Center estimates Hurricane Eta, which made landfall as a Cat 4 storm, dropped up to 40 inches of rain on Central America.

Shades of Harvey; Up to 40 Inches of Rain

This Associated Press story, datelined San Pedro Sula, in Honduras, brought tears to my eyes. The 20 pictures reminded me of Hurricane Harvey.

  • A pregnant woman in pain being carried to safety in waist deep water.
  • Families carrying crying babies on shoulders and hips.
  • Dazed elderly women and men.
  • Bewildered pets.
  • Streets and homes flooded in waist deep water.
  • People stranded on rooftops.
  • Rescue boats without motors struggling against currents.
  • Evacuees carrying belongings in plastic bags and baskets to higher ground.
  • The rescued, sleeping in pup tents.

Food Supply Jeopardized

Food supply is a real concern according to aid workers. “The country’s road network is badly damaged, airports were closed and much of the Sula valley, the country’s most agriculturally productive, was flooded,” said the story.

Sanitation will be a real issue, too. People are already struggling with Covid.

Landslides Bury Towns

In Guatemala, a landslide in the central part of the country hit the town of San Cristobal Verapaz, burying homes and leaving at least 25 dead. At least another 50 people were missing in two more slides. And government rescue teams had not yet reached the sites.

The impacts of Eta will be as far-reaching and long lasting as Harvey’s. But the people in Central America have far fewer resources to help them recover.

The International Monetary Fund lists the gross domestic product per capita of Honduras at $6,068 dollars. Nicaragua is even less – $5,681.

Please help if you can through your favorite relief organization.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/6/2020 based on an AP story

1165 Days since Hurricane Harvey

If You Thought Hurricane Season Was Over, Think Again

The 3PM CST update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Eta shows the storm emerging into the Bay of Honduras this afternoon as a tropical depression. Then it will intensify into a tropical storm, head to Cuba, and take a left turn into the Gulf. Round and round she goes, where she stops…

Source: National Hurricane Center

Near Hurricane Strength Again in Florida Straits by Monday

The NHC expects Eta to impact southern Florida and the Florida Keys with high winds and heavy rainfall this weekend before it turns into the Gulf.

The NHC does not predict more than five days out. It also says that the level of uncertainty associated with this forecast is higher than usual.

Image courtesy of NOAA. The large cloud mass in the lower portion of the image is Eta moving back out into the warm waters of the western Caribbean.

Then Turning into Gulf

From WeatherNerds.org

Jeff Lindner, Harris County Meteorologist says, “It is possible that Eta may eventually transition toward a sub-tropical system as it becomes increasingly entangled with the upper level trough over the Gulf of Mexico. For now NHC brings the system to a 65mph tropical storm over the Florida straits early next week with some of the intensity guidance showing slightly stronger solutions that would be near hurricane intensity.”

As of this morning, as this WeatherNerds spaghetti model shows, forecasts were all over the place. Later forecasts suggest it may be pushed east of the Houston Region. But again, it’s still a long way off.

So keep your eye on the Gulf. As Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” What goes for baseball goes for hurricane season – this year especially! Remember, Eta set a record for intensifying from a tropical storm into a major hurricane within hours before slamming into Nicaragua.

This Washington Post story says winds measured 140 mph when it came ashore. But the evening before satellite data suggested the storm contained 190 mph winds near its core. The storm maxed out the scales for satellite-derived hurricane-intensity data. NHC thought it was a Cat 5.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/5/2020 based on info from the NHC, WeatherNerds and HCFCD.

1164 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Eta Now Predicted to Re-emerge over NW Caribbean

The Monday 10am update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) on Hurricane Eta now predicts the storm will slam Central America then re-emerge into the Caribbean over the Bay of Honduras in the NW Caribbean.

Beyond 96 hours (Saturday), it’s uncertain what the storm will do.

NHC Predicts Cat 4

Eta has become an impressive November hurricane as it continues to undergo rapid strengthening. Low vertical wind shear and warm sea surface temperatures ahead of Eta are expected to allow for continued rapid strengthening during the next 12 to 24 hours. The updated NHC = forecast now calls for Eta to become a category 4 hurricane before it nears the coast of Nicaragua. After landfall, Eta should quickly weaken while it moves over the mountainous terrain of Central America.

Although Eta’s low-level center may not survive after being inland over Central America for so long, most of the global models depict a cyclone over the northwestern Caribbean Sea later this week and into the weekend which appears to develop from at least a part of Eta’s remnants, and the new NHC track forecast shows the system emerging over the northwest Caribbean Sea after 96 h.

However, the uncertainty in the long-range portion of the forecast remains quite high.

Key Messages

  1. Eta is forecast to strengthen to a major hurricane very soon, and additional strengthening is likely before it reaches the northeastern coast of Nicaragua on Tuesday. Catastrophic wind damage is expected where Etas eyewall moves onshore, and preparations should be rushed to completion within the Hurricane Warning area.
  2. Through Friday evening, heavy rainfall from Eta will likely lead to catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding across portions of Central America, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain. Flash and river flooding is also possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti, and the Cayman Islands.
  3. A potentially catastrophic and life-threatening storm surge, along with battering waves, is expected along portions of the northeastern coast of Nicaragua near and to the north of where the center makes landfall. Water levels could reach as high as 12 to 18 feet above normal tide levels in some parts of the hurricane warning area. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/2/2020

1161 Days since Hurricane Harvey

It’s Official; 2020 Ties Record For Most Tropical Events in Recorded History

Tropical storm formed in the central Caribbean Sea late yesterday and tied a record going back 170 years.

28th Storm of Year

Eta became the 28th tropical storm of the 2020 hurricane season and tied 2005 for the most tropical storms in an Atlantic hurricane season since records began in 1851.

Satellite images show the system still lacks any defined inner core.

Tropical Storm Eta formed late yesterday in the central Caribbean.

“Eta is a fairly large system,” says Harris County Meteorologist Jeff Lindner, “and such systems generally take time to consolidate and develop. Eta is moving westward and this motion is expected to continue for the next 72 hours.”

Hurricane Threat to Nicaragua and Honduras Tuesday

On its current track, Eta should slam into Nicaragua and Honduras Tuesday morning. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) predicts Eta will intensify into a hurricane on Monday. NHC also predicts heavy rainfall and flash flooding through Thursday, with landslides in higher elevations.

Fading High-Pressure Ridge Creates High Uncertainty Beyond 72 Hours

Eta is under the influence of a high-pressure ridge that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to near Cuba, which is forcing the system toward the west. After landfall, the system should significantly slow down as the high pressure ridge begins to weaken. “The main question,” says Lindner, “will there be enough of a defined system remaining to get pulled northward over the western Caribbean Sea and potentially the SE Gulf of Mexico. Given the expected land interaction and general slow motion beyond 72 hours, the confidence in the forecast for later this week is lower than average. Adjustments in the track are likely over the next several days.”


“There could be a period of rapid intensification prior to Eta making landfall over central America,” adds Lindner.

The Houston Area has been extremely lucky this year. Only one storm flooded only part of the City. Just to our east, Louisiana endured direct impacts from five storms.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/1/2020 based on info from HCFCD and NHC

1160 Days since Hurricane Harvey