Tropical Storm Eta does not appear to be done with the state of Florida and is forecast to make a second landfall in the state as early as Thursday.
The National Hurricane Center says the storm is 115 miles southwest of Tampa with winds of 70 mph moving north-northeast at 10 mph as of Wednesday afternoon.
Eta spent over five hours as a Category 1 hurricane for part of Wednesday morning.
A hurricane watch remains in effect from Anna Maria Island to Yankeetown while a tropical storm warning is in effect for the Dry Tortugas and from Bonita Beach to the Suwannee River. A tropical storm watch is in effect from the Suwannee River to the Aucilla River in the panhandle.
U.S. & World
Forecasters expected the system to go back to a tropical storm ahead of landfall expected north of Tampa at some point Thursday morning.
Storm surge is expected to be anywhere form one to four feet while rainfall could reach up to six inches in some regions.
Eta’s latest twist comes as cities in South Florida mopped up after Eta flooded some urban areas with a deluge that swamped entire neighborhoods and filled some homes with rising water that did not drain for hours.
It was the 28th named storm in a busy hurricane season, and the first to make landfall in Florida. This year tied the record with 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma struck the Gulf Coast. But that was before Theta formed late Monday night over the northeast Atlantic, becoming the basin's 29th named storm to eclipse the 2005 record.
After striking Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane and killing nearly 70 people from Mexico to Panama, Eta swept over South Florida, then moved Monday into the Gulf of Mexico near where the Everglades meet the sea, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.
Broward County was among the harder hit areas.
"It’s very bad. In the last 20 years, I've never seen anything like that," said Tito Carvalho, who owns a car stereo business in Fort Lauderdale and estimated the water was 3 feet deep in some places. Some items in his business were damaged from the flooding, he added.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis called it a 100-year rain event.
“Once the ground becomes saturated, there’s really no place for the water to go,” Trantalis said. “It’s not like a major hurricane. It’s more of a rain event, and we’re just doing our best to ensure that the people in our community are being protected.”