Pointing to the “erratic nature” of the storm as it threatened a large part of Florida’s west coast, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday expanded a state of emergency and asked President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration as Tropical Storm Eta prepared to make landfall Thursday.
Tropical-storm and storm-surge warnings and a hurricane watch were in effect Wednesday for much of the state’s west coast, including the Tampa metropolitan area. The National Hurricane Center said in a 1 p.m. advisory that the storm was expected to remain offshore Wednesday before making landfall Thursday and then crossing the state into the Atlantic.
In the request to Trump, DeSantis cited risks of flooding and potential complications in sheltering people because of COVID-19. The hurricane center advisory said tropical-storm and storm-surge warnings were in effect from Bonita Beach in Southwest Florida to the Suwannee River in northern Florida. A hurricane watch was in effect from Ana Maria Island to Yankeetown.
“These areas along the west coast of Florida are the most vulnerable areas to storm surge in the entire state and prone to long duration coastal flooding that could lead to evacuations of coastal populations,” DeSantis wrote in the 10-page request.