Powerful Hurricane Eta is expected to make landfall Tuesday afternoon in Nicaragua, but it is looking more likely it will re-emerge in the northwestern Caribbean this weekend.
The potentially catastrophic storm is forecast to dump more than 2 feet of rainfall in parts of Nicaragua and Honduras and produce a storm surge up to around 20 feet near the landfall location. The rugged terrain of the region increases the chance of hazardous mudslides.
Eta should weaken rapidly over Central America after it makes landfall. However, a strong majority of reliable model simulations forecast its remnant to move back over the warm water of the northwest Caribbean Sea Friday into the weekend. The official National Hurricane Center forecast brings Eta back to tropical storm status by Sunday morning. Based on the forecast cone issued late Tuesday morning, Eta could be as far north as western or central Cuba late this weekend.
There is considerable uncertainty in the track and intensity of the storm next week, assuming it regenerates in the Caribbean. Interests in Florida and the Bahamas are encouraged to occasionally monitor the progress of Eta heading into the weekend.
The category 4 storm is only the fifth on record in the Atlantic Basin in the month of November; two others have had greater maximum sustained winds during the month. Records in the Atlantic Basin go back to 1851.