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Hurricane Eta Carves Destructive Path in Central America, Cuba, Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Eta—the 28th named storm in this year’s hurricane season—made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday night, with wind speeds up to 65 miles per hour and heavy rains, The New York Times reported. Forecasters expected the storm to move gradually into the Gulf of Mexico early this week, possibly strengthening back into a hurricane again before moving toward the Gulf Coast.

The storm weakened significantly since it hit Central America on 3 November as a Category 4 hurricane. In Guatemala, at least 50 deaths have been confirmed as a result of the storm, and another 100 people are feared dead. Bad weather, mudslides, and flooding have complicated rescue efforts, according to the BBC. A state of emergency was declared in many regions across Guatemala. In neighboring Honduras, at least 10 deaths have been confirmed and hundreds of people are stranded in flooded areas, waiting for rescue.

The storm turned to Cuba next, with sustained winds of 60 miles per hour, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC), which warned of the possibility for “significant, life-threatening flash and river flooding,” as well as storm surges two to four feet above normal tide levels. Tens of thousands of Cubans evacuated from the storm’s path, state-run media reported.

According to the NHC, heavy rainfall from the tropical storm will continue across portions of Cuba, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Florida today, and life-threatening flash flooding will be possible as the storm moves up the coast of Florida.

In response to the storm, Florida officials closed beaches, ports, and COVID-19 testing sites, USA Today reported. In-person schooling was closed in Broward County. A state of emergency was declared for eight counties in Florida.