Tropical Storm Eta made landfall late Sunday in the Florida Keys on its way into the eastern Gulf of Mexico before taking another aim at the southeastern U.S. state later this week.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 100 kilometers per hour as it brought heavy rainfall and life-threatening flash floods to parts of southern Florida.
Forecasters expect the storm to strengthen slightly into a hurricane later Monday or Tuesday but weaken again into a tropical storm before making a mainland Florida landfall.
Officials have closed beaches, ports and coronavirus testing sites in the state and urged people to stay home. Florida’s governor has also declared a state of emergency in several counties to speed the government’s response.
Forecasters expect Eta to drop 15 to 30 centimeters of rain on central and southern Florida through Friday. Parts of the Bahamas, Jamaica and Cuba will also see some heavy rains.
Eta was a strong hurricane when it hit Nicaragua last week, bringing flooding rains to communities from Panama to Mexico.
Rescuers in Guatemala continued searching Sunday for people caught in a landslide and authorities raised the official death toll to 27 with more than 100 people still missing.
The storm has been blamed for at least 20 deaths in southern Mexico and at least 20 more in Honduras.