Southwest Floridians can expect to feel the impact of Tropical Storm Eta throughout this week as the storm works its way north through the Gulf of Mexico.
Because of that, public schools in Charlotte, DeSoto and Sarasota counties will be closed today.
“We are just in the starting phases of Eta in Southwest Florida,” said Meteorologist Rick Davis with the National Weather Service. “We still have next 24 to 48 hours to watch it.
“Once it moves more into the Gulf of Mexico,” Davis continued, “if it kind of meanders there in the Gulf and drifts north. We could have lingering effects through mid-week and in the Tampa Bay area at the end of the week.”
Heavy rain, thunderstorms and strong winds can be expected to continue throughout parts of the state, according to NWS.
The persistence of the heavy rainfall over South Florida could also lead to some flash flooding through Monday.
“The storm is expected to take a northwest turn Sunday night and move through the Keys,” Davis said. “It should be in the southeast area of the Gulf today and could strengthen to a hurricane.”
Davis said that the Florida Keys were already under a hurricane warning Sunday, and a tropical storm warning is likely to be issued for Southwest Florida Monday.
“There are 20 to 25 mph winds in the Southwest Florida area with gusts potentially up to 35 mph,” Davis said. “Gusty winds will increase Sunday night and Monday.”
The NWS reported that over 5 inches of rain is expected to fall in South Florida by Tuesday morning.
Strong winds may also lead to coastal flooding and storm surges across southern Florida as Eta’s forecasted track takes it across the Keys over the next two days.
“Everybody needs to pay attention, be prepared and heed any evacuation orders given by local authorities,” Davis said.
NWS reports a 70% chance of precipitation Monday for Charlotte County with new rainfall amounts to be between a quarter and half of an inch possible Monday.
For now, Tuesday’s forecast shows a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 1 p.m.
That night, there is a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms.