- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2020

Tropical Storm Eta delivered heavy downpours and wind gusts Thursday over parts of the East Coast as it weakened and moved offshore, traveling parallel to the Carolinas in the Atlantic Ocean.

A cold front passing along the coast combined with the tropical moisture from Eta was causing a “big rainfall issue” in North and South Carolina and Virginia, said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center.

In North Carolina, multiple water rescues were underway Thursday in Alexander County. Burke County also was dealing with rising water, and heavy rainfall caused at least one mudslide, according to WBTV. High waters trapped at least 33 campers at the Hiddenite Family Campground off of Princess Lane near the South Yadkin River, and five people were missing, officials said.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Wakefield, Virginia, issued multiple flash flood warnings for Exmore, Eastville, Kiptopeke, Virginia Beach, Princess Anne and Sandbridge. In Roanoke, a fire and emergency medical crew conducted a swift water rescue on a city street and warned folks to not drive around barricades.

Eta also flooded parts of northeastern Florida and southeastern Georgia, prompting a tropical storm warning from Flagler County/Volusia County line in Florida northward to St. Andrews Sound, Georgia.

“The rain is moving out of the region this afternoon, but river flooding is expected into the weekend as runoff from the significant rainfall over the Carolinas fills the area’s rivers,” NWS Columbia in South Carolina tweeted Thursday.

On Thursday, Eta was moving northeast at about 15 mph with maximum sustained winds near 45 mph. The National Hurricane Center said the storm should move parallel to the Carolinas’ shore Thursday evening and early Friday before traveling east of the mid-Atlantic coast by late Friday. Mr. Feltgen said Friday’s weather should be “markedly improved.”

Meteorologists said Eta could “re-intensify as a non-tropical cyclone” late Friday before a larger non-tropical cyclone absorbs it on Saturday.

Eta made landfall early Thursday for a fourth time near Cedar Key, Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, drenching the west coast as it raced across the state.

Firefighters in Tampa rescued about a dozen people stranded by storm surge flooding on Bayshore Boulevard, The Associated Press reported. Flooding forced residents in some isolated neighborhoods to evacuate, and the storm prompted school closures.

The high waters also shut down several of Florida’s coronavirus testing sites including Miami-Dade County’s Hard Rock Stadium and Pinellas County’s Tropicana Field earlier this week.

President Trump on Wednesday approved a federal emergency declaration for 13 Florida counties near the Gulf Coast affected by Eta.

Eta had briefly gained hurricane strength Wednesday morning before weakening to a tropical storm in the afternoon.

The storm made its first landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in Nicaragua last week before landing in Cuba. Late Sunday, Eta landed in the Lower Matecumbe Key as it drifted into the Gulf of Mexico, deluging neighborhoods from Monroe to Palm Beach counties.

Eta is the 28th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, matching the 2005 record for named storms. Theta formed Monday night, becoming the 29th named storm and breaking the record for most named storms. On Thursday, it was traveling eastward over the Atlantic with high sustained winds of 65 mph.

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