WHAT’S CLOSED, CANCELED: An updated list of Eta cancellations and closures
POWER OUTAGES: The latest on Duke Energy outages
ROADS REOPEN: The latest on road closures
WEATHER AHEAD: The forecast for the rest of the week
LATEST TRACK FOR ETA
Tampa Bay awoke Thursday to lingering winds and rain after Tropical Storm Eta passed through overnight, making landfall around 4 a.m. near Cedar Key. There was a sigh of relief across the region that the storm didn’t hit harder, but work ahead as flooding recedes and leaves debris behind.
4:04 p.m. ET: Video: Eta’s impacts across Tampa Bay
2:53 p.m. ET: New tropical system forms in Caribbean
There’s a tropical system brewing in the Caribbean Sea that is following the same path that Eta did before it thrashed Central America and deluged Tampa Bay, but the models show it’s unlikely to repeat Eta’s path.
— Jamal Thalji
2:51 p.m. ET: Eastbound Courtney Campbell Causeway reopened
2:10 p.m. ET: More details on Florida’s only known fatality
A Manatee County man putting out sandbags Wednesday was electrocuted when he stepped into his garage, where there were several inches of standing water from the storm, fire and county officials said Thursday.
Here’s what we know about the incident in Bradenton Beach.
— Sue Carlton
2:06 p.m. ET: Eta was ‘gentle reminder’
Eta’s speed and the drying conditions that sapped the storm of strength contributed to making this a minimal event. Still, the storm’s sudden jog toward the bay area as it meandered off the coast of Cuba caught many by surprise. The Tampa Bay Times editorial board writes that the storm was “another reminder of the power of nature, the peril that comes with coastal living and the duration of a storm season that extends beyond Thanksgiving," and the need to remain vigilant, or even rethink hurricane planning.
2:00 p.m. ET: Schools to reopen
The threat of Hurricane Eta didn’t translate into much damage for Tampa Bay area schools, allowing district officials to stick to their planned reopening schedule. Both the Pinellas and Pasco school systems announced they will resume in-person classes on Friday, as expected. Hillsborough County schools will have another day of remote-only instruction on Friday, as the district winds down storm shelter operations.
— Jeffrey Solochek
1:20 p.m. ET: Watch Eta’s full 40-hour path over Florida
These satellite images from NOAA show Tropical Storm Eta’s path over 40 hours.
12:32 p.m. ET: Fixing the ramp for a ‘beautiful weekend’
Crews in St. Petersburg were still assessing damage as Eta moved across north Florida, leaving behind a breezy, sunny day. Flooding in Shore Acres was receding and all roads were open and passable, and some downed power lines still needed attention, city officials said.
But despite the pleasant weather, no boats were coming in or out of the Bay Vista boat ramp, which suffered damage from the storm surge. Rocks and boulders big and little that were in place to prevent erosion were strewn across the asphalt, and the water had swallowed up a railing.Elsewhere in Bay Vista Park, rocks and drying sea slime blocked paths and demarcating the high water mark. Palm fronds were littered about. The wooden fishing pier appeared intact.
How did the park used to look? “Not like this,” said Rod, a fisherman who was there to catch mullet. City crews closed off the parking lot to fishing while surveyed the damage. Workers expected to have the boat ramp repaired by Thursday evening. “We’re just trying to get it done before this beautiful weekend,” said Abdul Yates, a foreman with the city’s parks and recreation department. “Beautiful weekend means a lot of boaters.”
— Josh Solomon
12:23 p.m. ET: Most major roads have reopened
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Howard Frankland Bridge were back open after closures caused by Tropical Storm Eta, while eastbound lanes of the Courtney Campbell Causeway remained closed due to debris. More than 10 roads in Tampa that were impassable earlier Thursday morning had been cleared by 11 a.m., said city of Tampa spokeswoman Ashley Bauman.
Roads that had been closed in South Pasadena were back open by 11 a.m. Part of 30th Avenue in Gulfport was still closed. In Kenneth City, several downed trees had been cleared, though a downed power line kept part of 61st Street closed. Farther north, in Safety Harbor, part of Bayshore Boulevard was still closed due to flooding.
— Caitlin Johnston
12:15 p.m. ET: Thousands without power in Pinellas
Hours after Tropical Storm Eta passed through the Tampa Bay region, roughly 18,000 Tampa Bay area utility customers are still without power, down from 24,000 a few hours prior.
Just under 15,000 Duke Energy Florida customers in Pinellas County were experiencing outages as of noon, according to the company’s outage map. That’s roughly 3 percent of its customers in that area and less than 1 percent of its customers statewide. Another 1,181 customers in Pasco County were without power by late morning. The utility did not yet have an estimated time for restoring power.
Find more details and updates on power outages here.
— Malena Carollo
11:52 a.m. ET: Massive gator was out in storm
While Eta’s strong winds and rain pushed most people indoors, it drew out an alligator that took a stroll along a Naples golf course. A now-viral set of photos and video shows the massive gator walking toward the water, his thick tail dragging behind. Many questioned if the alligator was real, stunned by the size of it. “Yep, it’s real,” said Tyler Stolting, the first assistant golf professional at Valencia Golf and Country Club.
— Romy Ellenbogen
11:41 a.m. ET: Water recedes on Bayshore, leaving abandoned cars
Much of Bayshore Boulevard was under water this morning, from downtown to Howard Avenue and on to Davis Island. But as the morning progressed, flood water quickly receded into dry soil and newly refurbished stormwater drainage pipes. Left behind were a handful of stalled or washed-out vehicles abandoned by their owners in the throes of the storm. Tampa Fire Rescue confirmed about a dozen drivers had to be rescued Wednesday night when they attempted to drive through standing water.
A number of residential streets off Westshore Boulevard were also inundated with standing water Thursday morning, but the flooding never crept high enough to cause significant damage. Police barricaded a number of roads overnight and by morning Swann Avenue and Brevard Avenue remained closed. Stormwater still sloshed on Westshore and Bay-to-Bay Boulevard around 11 a.m., but was expected to be cleared before lunchtime. The retreating water leaves behind a muddy paste of silt, sand and debris, making the roads extra slippery for drivers, city officials said.
“The city’s done a great deal of work on storm water mitigation over the past several years, so I’m glad to see that working as planned,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said. “As soon as the sun came up our teams were out there doing assessments of the damage, getting debris off the roadways and, hopefully, by noon you won’t even know we had a storm here.”
In Tampa, the National Weather Service reported 6.6 inches of rain overnight. It’s been an unusually dry year for the region, so much of that extra rainfall could be soaked up by the soil, forecasters said. Still, the amount of storm surge flooding brought by the Tropical Storm was an eye opener for what could have been, had the city taken a direct hit from a stronger storm.
“These storms are incredibly unpredictable, and this storm was probably the best example of that unpredictability that I’ve seen,” Castor said. “Luckily, we have an incredible team here in Tampa that is well prepared to address these issues, and we had a little bit of good luck that we didn’t take a direct hit.”
— Anastasia Dawson
11:29 a.m. ET: Water ‘just kept coming’ in Oldsmar
Several homes on Shore Drive in Oldsmar were flooded as storm surge crashed into their garages and living rooms late Wednesday.
The water reached Leland Holland’s yard at 8:30 p.m. By 11:30, it was in his garage. Holland and his wife had experienced storms before, but Eta and the flooding it brought was worse than he expected. “The storm wasn’t that bad, it was just the water,” Holland said. “It just kept coming.” The water stopped four inches shy of entering his home.
His neighbor wasn’t as lucky. Troy Schlitz has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, but was out of the state when Eta hit. When Holland checked on the house Thursday morning, five inches of water covered the living room floor of the split-level home. Neighbors Garry and Sandy Sears faced two inches of storm surge, which flooded their laundry room overnight. Outside, the wind tossed garbage cans and planters and downed a utility pole in their yard.
The neighbors spent the morning together, surveying the damage done by the storm that caught many of them off guard. They cleared fallen branches and repotted plants. Down the block, Otto Lohmann, 87, donned white boots and gloves and picked up fallen branches the length of his body. An 8-inch-high water line on his garage door marked the height of the storm surge.
— Caitlin Johnston
11:20 a.m. ET: Why the Courtney Campbell is closed eastbound
The City of Clearwater advised that "hazardous boating and beach conditions continue with a high risk of rip currents, high surf and rough waters.
11:15 a.m. ET: City of Tampa: ‘Mostly just downed trees,' but parks are open
City of Tampa Parks have reopened, but the city Is asking residents to use caution as “there are areas that have a lot of storm debris.” Crews are working to clean up the parks as quickly as possible, the city said in a news release. Residents should also use caution when visiting the Tampa Riverwalk, where some sections have limited access. Parks and Recreation offices and facilities are open for their normally scheduled hours.
10:38 a.m. ET: Small children, animals among rescued in Pinellas
Officials said the roughly 33 people in Pinellas County who were rescued by sheriff’s deputies in boats or high-water vehicles overnight were taken to a handful of hotels for shelter, including Alden Suites Beachfront Resort in St. Pete Beach. Manager Buddy Hyer said a family — two adults, three “very small children” and two small animals — arrived in a sheriff’s Humvee about 1:30 a.m. They were soaked, had limited clothing and wore no shoes. They had been rescued after their St. Petersburg home flooded during the storm, Hyer said.
— Megan Reeves
10:30 a.m. ET: Flooded streets in St. Pete’s Shore Acres
Sandy Bell, 69, was walking to her daughter’s house in the Shore Acres area of St. Petersburg around 10:30 a.m. Bell and her husband live at Overlook Condominiums, and their vehicles are stranded due to the high water. Ball said a neighbor had to get a ride to work from her boss, who owns a Jeep. “I think the biggest part of last night was the unknown,” Bell said, speaking of what could happen with the tide and winds. She’s never seen the water quite this high before. “I wouldn’t want it to be any higher.”
Talked to a few more residents who also said they’d never seen the water this high.— Kathryn Varn (@kathrynvarn) November 12, 2020
Hayley Barrows, 26, and fiancé Jon O’Connor, 38, said waves were rippling up & down their street. Here’s their saturated backyard. The water was up to the dirt line on the fence, in pic 3. pic.twitter.com/bwBLVP8u6s
Dennis McLaughlin, who lives on Georgia Avenue, went paddleboarding in the street.
— Kathryn Varn
10: 22 a.m. ET: Hillsborough deputies responded to 110 calls but most flooding gone
By 9:30 a.m., the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office had responded to 110 service requests due to the inclimate weather, agency spokeswoman Crystal Clark said. Most involved flooded neighborhoods and standing water in the streets, she said, but deputies also responded to reports of downed power lines and traffic signal outages.
No major structural damage had been reported to the agency and no civilians or responding deputies were injured in the storm, according to the agency’s communication center. “Overall we got very, very lucky,” Clark said. “We didn’t see anything like some of the reports coming out of Pinellas.”
Most of Hillsborough’s calls for help came from the county’s District 3, which includes the Town 'N Country area and Oldsmar, Clark said. But by mid-morning Thursday, most floodwaters throughout the county had receded.
Some deputies were still helping to clear trees and debris from roadways, diverting traffic around any large obstructions. Nearing 10 a.m. Thursday, only a few pockets of minor flooding remained, Clark said. Several residential streets in the Apollo Beach area were still clogged with standing water from the storm, as was Gornto Lake road south of Causeway Boulevard and parts of Columbus Drive, east of US-301.
— Anastasia Dawson
10:15 a.m. ET: Truck lost control in Eta’s winds
Strong winds from Eta caused the driver of a UPS double tractor trailer to lose control of the car and collide with the guardrail in Hernando County, according to Florida Highway Patrol. At about 1:15 a.m., the 56-year-old driver was going south on I-75, north of SR-50, when he lost control. After hitting the rail, the second trailer overturned. The driver suffered minor injuries, according to highway patrol. Southbound I-75 was closed until just after 4:45 a.m. as a result.
— Romy Ellenbogen
10:03 a.m. ET: Busy morning at John’s Pass
It was a busy scene at John’s Pass Village in Madeira Beach as business owners and staff cleaned up debris. Terry Ryan, owner of Fly-N-High Waverunners, said he stayed at his shop until after 10 p.m. Wednesday to keep an eye on flooding. Waters reached about 2 1/2 feet inside — the highest he’s seen in his 15 years in the village. “That’s part of doing business on the water,” he said. “It’s Mother Nature. We’re at her mercy.”
— Megan Reeves
9:42 a.m. ET: Sailboats swept ashore in Gulfport
E. J. Simons took to Sunset Beach after Eta passed, to see “what was happening in our hood.” What she found reminded her of the sheer force of nature, she said. The 66-year-old looked over at the six boats, both large sailboats and smaller dinghies, beached on the city’s shore. “I don’t think anybody expected this big of a blow,” she said.
Simons has only been in the waterfront city for a year, but she traveled the neighborhood looking for ways to help shop owners and residents, maybe mopping up a storefront or picking up plants and garbage cans from the street. “Everybody’s helping everybody out, it’s what we do in Gulfport,” she said.
When Gary Alpers, 63, opened More Bazaar for the day he was greeted by two or three inches of sitting water from Eta on the city’s main street. “When we opened up the door, water came out,” he said. Alpers, an associate at the clothing store, spent the morning running a shop vac to pick up the water. Some of the store’s wares — the longer dresses and baskets on the floor — were ruined, he said.
Only one plastic skeleton in a lifejacket remained aboard one beached sailboat to tell the tale of the rough storm. Sgt. Michael Vandenberg of the Gulfport Police Department paced the beach identifying the boats and reaching out to their owners. Vandenberg has been with the department for 18 years. “This is the first time I’ve seen them actually get left, picked up and dropped off on the sand,” he said. “This was definitely the most storm surge we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
The city gives the owners an agreed-upon amount of time to move the vessels, and if not, the city will remove the boats, he said. One of the boats, a red sailboat with a 40,000 pound steel hull, might take some time, and a 20-ton crane to remove it, Vandenberg said.
— Bailey LeFever
9:29 a.m. ET: Cleaning up, assessing damage in North Redington Beach and Safety Harbor
The hotel’s assistant chief engineer Tom Sasser says the pool is basically a miniature Gulf of Mexico now, filled with salty water and a layer of sand at the bottom. His crew will drain it and sanitize before refilling it with clean water. @TB_Times pic.twitter.com/P5zu01Kkeh— Megan Reeves (@mareevs) November 12, 2020
9:25 a.m. ET: MacDill Air Force Base lists ‘flood zones’ and limited access
MacDill Air Force Base officials are asking personnel to avoid four flood zone areas. Bayshore Boulevard., from Zemke Avenue to Florida Keys Avenue; Bayshore Boulevard, from Hangar Loop Drive to Tampa Point Boulevard; Bayshore Boulevard., from McClelland Avenue to The Bay Palms Golf Course Parking Lot and all of Marina Bay Drive.
The Bayshore gate to the base is closed until further notice, but the Dale Mabry Gate is open. The base is allowing access for a minimum number of essential personnel only, and certain services are not open today, an update said.
9:15 a.m. ET: In Hernando, palm fronds down
About 8 a.m. Thursday, Melanie Montagna was picking up the last of the palm fronds that covered the parking lot of the Hernando Beach Motel, which she manages.
“We got very, very lucky,” she said. “The water never reached the seawall. We never had any flooding.”
She also manages 22 fully occupied boat slips near the motel, she said, and no boats were damaged.
The storm surge and high tide didn’t come at the same time Wednesday night, she said, which resulted in a relatively calm night in a community known for storm flooding.
She and others said they lost power about 10 p.m., but only for about half an hour. Residents of gulf-front homes said they had more wind than water last night, but knew of no storm damage.
9:00 a.m. ET: No major damage reported in Pasco
Pasco County had no road closures Thursday morning, and no major damage was reported, according to spokesman Brendan Fitterer. The county saw no significant flooding and any localized flooding that occurred overnight had cleared by morning.
8:20 a.m. ET: Skyway is open again
The Florida Highway Patrol announces: "The Skyway Bridge is now OPEN.
7:40 a.m. ET: Deputies rescued 33 in Pinellas
Pinellas County’s Gulf beach communities bore the brunt of Tropical Storm Eta, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.
The Sheriff’s Office deployed High Water Rescue Teams throughout the county, using boats and high water vehicles to rescue 33 people from homes and roadways.
The Sheriff’s Office Dive Team assisted in several rescues from areas vehicles couldn’t reach. The high water vehicles included Humvees, flat-bottom boats and inflatable boats.
Most of the rescues occurred in the area from Pass-a-Grille in south St. Pete Beach north to Madeira Beach. Those rescued were taken to area hotels or other shelters.
No injuries were reported to any citizens or deputies as a result of the rescues.
Deputies have been working overnight to assure the roadways are safe and used chainsaws and other hurricane response equipment to remove fallen trees and branches from the roads. The Sheriff’s Office was working with county highway crews to further clear the roads.
At this time, there are no road closures but teams of deputies are currently doing assessments throughout the county and will provide updates as they are available.
7:30 a.m. ET: In Pinellas, downed trees and lines
Pinellas County work crews were out assessing damage Thursday morning, said spokesman Josh Boatwright.
They had found no major structural damage as of 7:30 a.m.
The county responded to about 30 service requests overnight, attending to downed trees and powerlines. The biggest issues were related to flooding, Boatwright said.
About 45 people in Pinellas voluntarily stayed at shelters in Lealman and Clearwater, and those facilities remain open.
7:25 a.m. Scenes from downtown
Photos shot by Luis Santana of the Tampa Bay Times are getting shared widely on social media accounts, the National Weather Service among them, because Luis has a talent for being where the news is.
7:20 a.m. ET: Tampa International back to normal
The airport tweeted just after 7, “We have resumed normal operations. All passengers should check on their flight status with their airline before coming to TPA.”
7:15 a.m. ET: Some shelters still open
Three shelters in Hillsborough County remained open Thursday morning.
Because of low demand, two shelters — Steinbrenner High and Reddick Elementary — closed Wednesday night.
Check here to see what you need to know about staying at a shelter.
These remain open:
- Burnett Middle School (pet-friendly), 1010 N. Kingsway Road
- Middleton High School, 4801 N. 22nd Street
- Sickles High School (pet-friendly) and Family Shelter, 7950 Gunn Highway
6:35 a.m. ET: Electrocution reported in Bradenton Beach
Several media outlets including the Bradenton Herald are reporting this morning that one person died by electrocution and a first responder received a shock because of what may have been storm surge from Tropical Storm Eta.
6:00 a.m. ET: Hillsborough buses roll at noon
The bus system in Hillsborough announced that service resumes at noon Thursday.
HART TO RESTART SERVICE TODAY, NOVEMBER 12TH AT NOON
TAMPA, Fla. - Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) is preparing to restart service on all bus routes, the TECO Line Streetcar and HART SMART AV service beginning at Noon TODAY, THURSDAY November 12th following Tropical Storm Eta.
HART Customer Service will reopen at 10:30am and questions can be directed 813-254-4278.
5:55 a.m. ET: List of roads closed in Tampa
The city of Tampa issued notice first thing Thursday of streets that are closed for flooding from the storm.
- Bay to Bay/Westshore - Both directions on B2B has standing water
- Courtney Campbell Causeway - shut down EB & WB by DOT/Clearwater (this will be assessed around 0700 hours to determine how much cleanup is needed from debris on roadways)
- Cypress/Reo-Cypress Eb/WB impassable - waiting on barricades
- Gandy/Bayshore-Davis Island Bridge - Bayshore has standing water the entire way both directions -Waiting on Barricades
- Henry W/River - impassable both directions
- Lamb/Westshore-Schiller - standing water
- Longfellow/Westshore - East of Westshore on Longfellow-standing water
- MLK/Rome-Farris-Rome impassable both ways-waiting on barricades
- Plant/Bayshore-leaving TGH-impassable
- River/Wilder-standing water-passable for now -CLEAR
- Swann/Brevard-SB Brevard impassable
- Adamo-Uceta/50th-On 50th St, both directions impassable
- Ashley/Kennedy-Whiting-Impassable, waiting for barricades
- Brorein St Bridge/Ashley-Bridge is not passable
- Columbus/50th St-60th st -standing water both directions, recommended to avoid
- Hemlock/20th St - both directions on 20th impassable, barricades on the way
- Hemlock-Oakwood/22nd St-22nd st both directions, impassable, barricades on the way
- Maritime/Causeway-NB Causeway not passable, barricades on the way