Tracking the Tropics: Eta, now a tropical depression, forecast to intensify with Florida in its path

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – After battering Central America with heavy rains, setting off deadly mudslides, Eta is expected to emerge over the Caribbean and head toward Florida this weekend.

Eta, once a powerful Category 4 hurricane, weakened to a tropical depression Wednesday, but is still bringing heavy rains and life-threatening flooding to parts of Central America, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm is believed to have killed at least four people, including a 12-year-old girl in Honduras.

At 10 a.m. ET Thursday, Eta was about 80 miles southwest of La Cieba, Honduras, and had died down to maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. It was moving west-northwest at 9 mph.

Forecasters expect Eta’s remnans to produce an additional 10 to 15 inches of rain over parts of Nicaragua and Honduras, with some areas seeing isolated amounts of 40 inches.

The forecast track shows the system crossing Honduras on Thursday and emerging over the Gulf of Honduras on Thursday night.

“Eta will likely degenerate to a remnant low or trough of low pressure this morning. However, re-intensification is forecast once the center of Eta moves over the northwestern Caribbean Sea,” the National Hurricane Center said.

The system should near the Cayman Islands and western or central Cuba sometime this weekend.

Although it’s too soon to tell exactly what impact the storm will have on the Sunshine State, forecasters in Miami say wind and rain impacts including flooding are possible.

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