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Gusty Winds, Heavy Rain Bands For Tampa Bay As Tropical Storm Eta Emerges In Gulf


A tropical storm warning is in effect from Manatee County to the south with Tropical Storm Eta in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of an expected turn back toward the state.

Portions of Florida's west coast are experiencing drenching rains as Tropical Storm Eta continues to move west into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico after producing widespread flooding and sporadic power outages in South Florida.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge closed early Monday morning but reopened around noon, and Sarasota County schools were also closed.

Eta made landfall late Sunday evening in the middle Keys and continues its march westward into the Gulf of Mexico, about 65 miles south of Naples, according to the National Hurricane Center.

There have been widespread reports of tropical storm-force winds and flooding in South Florida on Sunday evening and early Monday morning.

Eta continued to move farther away from Florida on Monday afternoon, but its forecast remains in flux.

Dr. Athena Masson, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, says there is a considerable amount of uncertainty on what Eta will do in the coming days.

“The steering currents in the Gulf are extremely complex over the next few days and weather models are struggling to determine which feature will be the dominant force in the atmosphere,” Masson said. “The official forecast -- at least for now -- brings Eta north as a weakening tropical storm toward Florida’s Big Bend later this week. However, there is still the chance that Eta could stay offshore in the Gulf and dissipate entirely as dry air takes hold of the system.”

Masson says that outer rain bands are still expected in the greater Tampa Bay region through at least Tuesday, with an offshore flow.

But by Wednesday, the Gulf waters may become more unsettled and the rain bands more persistent if or when the storm starts to make the turn to the north.

Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network was used in this report.

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