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Tropical Storm Eta has been upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane and is strengthening as it continues on its track toward Central America, forecasters said Monday.
Hazard Management Cayman Islands advised Monday morning that increasingly strong winds, rough seas, and periods of heavy rainfall will be felt across the Cayman Islands over the coming days, as the storm tracks 300 miles away.
Eta was 310 miles south of Grand Cayman, as of 7am, and moving generally westward while strengthening as it heads towards Northern Nicaragua.
The Cayman Islands National Weather Service has issued a small-craft marine warning as the storm is expected to send 5-to-7-foot waves Cayman’s way.
In its advisory Sunday night, the National Weather Service said that as Eta moves over the southwest Caribbean, an increase in wave heights along with possible swells are expected, with waves forecast to increase to 6 to 8 feet on Tuesday.
Cayman can expect 20 to 25 knot winds and rough seas from Monday evening.
The US National Hurricane Center, in its Monday morning advisory, said Eta is moving west near 10 miles per hour, and this general motion is expected to continue through the morning.
“A slower motion toward the west-southwest is forecast by this afternoon and continuing into Tuesday. On the forecast track, the center of Eta is expected to approach the northeastern coast of Nicaragua [Monday] afternoon, and make landfall within the Hurricane Warning area in Nicaragua by early Tuesday. The center of Eta is forecast to move farther inland over northern Nicaragua through early Wednesday,” the NHC said.
Data from an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds have increased to near 90 mph with higher gusts, the NHC said.
“Continued strengthening, possibly rapid, is expected through early Tuesday, and Eta could be a major hurricane when landfall occurs by early Tuesday. Weakening will begin after the system moves inland,” the NHC added.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the centre and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 125 miles.
The NHC said the Cayman Islands, El Salvador and southern Haiti can expect 3 to 5 inches of cumulative rainfall and isolated amounts of 10 inches through Friday evening due to the hurricane’s passage.
“This rainfall would lead to catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain of Central America,” the NHC said, with flash flooding and river flooding possible across Jamaica, southeast Mexico, El Salvador, southern Haiti, and the Cayman Islands.