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Florida Could Be Hit by Eta Twice

Storm, which could turn back into a hurricane, might 'regroup' and make a second pass
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 9, 2020 12:08 AM CST

(Newser) – Florida closed beaches and COVID testing sites, shut down public transportation and ordered some evacuations Sunday as Tropical Storm Eta took aim, bringing heavy rains to already flooded city streets after leaving scores dead and over 100 missing in Mexico and Central America. Eta made landfall late Sunday on Lower Matecumbe Key, Fla., the AP reports. Even if the storm doesn’t strengthen into a hurricane, its slow speed and heavy rains posed an enormous threat to South Florida, an area already drenched from more than 14 inches of rain last month. Eta could dump an additional 6 to 12 inches, forecasters said. “In some areas, the water isn’t pumping out as fast as it’s coming in,” warned Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz. “Please take this storm seriously,” urged Palm Beach County Emergency Management Director Bill Johnson. “Please don’t drive through flooded roadways.”

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Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he was in frequent contact with county water officials about the struggle to drain the flooded waters, which has stalled vehicles, whitewashed some intersections and even crept into some homes. The US National Hurricane Center in Miami declared hurricane and storm surge warnings for the Keys from Ocean Reef to the Dry Tortugas, including Florida Bay. Eta had maximum sustained winds of 65mph on Sunday night and was centered about 30 miles east-northeast of Marathon, Fla., and 70 miles east-northeast of Key West. It was moving west-northwest at 14mph. In the Florida Keys, the mayor ordered mandatory evacuations for mobile home parks, campgrounds, and RV parks and those in low-lying areas. Several schools districts closed. NPR notes the storm could "regroup" in the Gulf of Mexico and then hit Florida a second time. "You're going to be dealing with this all week," said NHC Director Ken Graham. "It's going to take a while to get this thing out of here." (More of the latest on the storm here.)

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