Tropical Storm Eta was expected to bring life-threatening storm surge to the Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday evening into Thursday when heavy rainfall was expected across west and central Florida and flash flooding was possible in South Florida.
Eta was about 65 miles west-southwest of St. Petersburg, Florida, and moving north at 12 mph with top winds of 70 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 4 p.m. EST update.
Eta became a Category 1 hurricane early Wednesday but was downgraded to a tropical storm by the afternoon, and the hurricane watch for portions of the west coast of Florida was discontinued.
“Almost as quickly as Eta regained hurricane status, it then lost it shortly thereafter,” the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm was expected to approach the west-central coast Wednesday evening and rapidly weaken as it moves inland over the northern portion of the Florida peninsula Thursday. Late Thursday and early Friday, Eta is expected to move northeastward into the western Atlantic, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the Florida Gulf Coast from Bonita Beach to Suwannee River, including Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor,” the center said.