SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The forecast for the Suncoast late into the weekend and early next week remains uncertain and completely dependent on the curved and twisting track of Eta. This morning the storm has moved in the Caribbean Sea causing an explosion of thunderstorm growth. This is due to the warm water temperatures, upper air support for thunderstorms and what ever is left of Eta’s structure. Hurricane Hunter aircraft will fly into the storm later today and that data will help refine the forecast. In the short term models agree on a track toward central or west central Cuba in 36 to 48 hours. Eta will cross over Cuba by late Sunday or early Monday and slow down as it bumps up against a large area of high pressure. At that point the forecast gets very complicated.
A critical period in the forecast will be Sunday into Monday when Eta makes a turn toward the Gulf. If it makes the turn early the impact on South Florida and the Suncoast will be minimized. If it makes the turn later South Florida could get a more direct hit and the Suncoast see much more rain and wind. Beyond that there is a second critical period. Once the storm passes by South Florida and moves into the offshore waters of the Gulf it will likely make a second turn. That turn could send the storm back toward central Florida or as far west as the northern Gulf coast. Stay tuned.