Eta Strengthens To Hurricane As It Prepares To Strike Florida For Second Time

Update (0810 ET): The National Hurricane Center's (NHC) 0735 ET tropical update has upgraded Tropical Storm Eta to a Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph or higher. 

"Reports from an NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft and Doppler radar data indicate that Eta has re-strengthened into a hurricane offshore the southwestern coast of Florida, with maximum, sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/h), with higher gusts," NHC said. 

Hurricane Eta Status As Of 0735 ET

Eta is expected to make landfall north of Tampa on Thursday morning. 

*   *   *

With sustained maximum winds of around 70 mph, Tropical Storm Eta may strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane before it makes a second landfall on Florida's west coast on Thursday. 

As of the National Hurricane Center's (NHC) 0400 ET tropical update, Eta is about 175 miles southwest of Fort Myers, with 70 mph winds, moving at about 12 mph. 

NHC 0400 ET Tropical Update

Hurricane watches have been posted from Anna Maria Island to Yankeetown. Weather models shifted Eta's track east on Thursday. 

NHC 0400 ET Eta Model 

These models also forecast Eta to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane ahead of landfall expected north of Tampa on Thursday morning. 

Eta's Latest Spaghetti Models

Eta's latest projected landfall comes as the storm battered South Florida earlier this week. It's the 28th named storm in a super active hurricane season for the Atlantic. 

2020 US Storm Landfall Locations 

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was officially confirmed as the busiest on record this week, with the development of the 29th named storm called Theta, forming in the open Atlantic near Africa - breaking the 2005 record of 28 tropical cyclones in a given season. 

The good news is that hurricane season "officially" ends on Nov. 30.