Travel Alert November 2020: Fourth Landfall of Tropical Storm Eta; Airline Travel Waivers

After the fourth landfall of Tropical Storm Eta occurred just south of Cedar Key in Florida earlier this morning, Thursday, November 9, 2020 — which was the second landfall of a named tropical system in the state of Florida in 2020 — the storm is currently crossing the northern part of the state before it moves out over the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Travel Alert November 2020: Fourth Landfall of Tropical Storm Eta; Airline Travel Waivers

Tropical Storm Eta

Source: National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.

Maximum sustained winds of Tropical Storm Eta — which is currently centered approximately ten miles west of Gainesville in Florida and is moving northeast at 13 miles per hour — are 45 miles per hour, which means that this storm is officially classified as a minimal tropical storm; and it has caused electric power outages for at least 15,000 people in northern Florida.

No additional landfalls are expected from Tropical Storm Eta, whose only threat to the United States after it gains speed over the Atlantic Ocean will be rough seas and dangerous rip current conditions for the east coast. Up to three inches of additional rain is expected in western and central Florida, which increases the chances of flooding in more areas of the state. Some isolated areas of Florida are forecast to have been inundated with a total accumulation of 25 inches of rain from this storm.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for the border which is shared by Flagler County and Volusia County in Florida northward to Saint Andrews Sound in Georgia.

At least 200 people reportedly died from what was Hurricane Eta when it was a Category 4 hurricane — 63 of those deaths occurred in Honduras alone — and at least 100 people are still missing in Central America, with hundreds more evacuated from their homes. Approximately 150 houses in Guatemala were buried; and searches for missing people were discontinued in that country.

The four landfalls of this tropical system occurred as follows:

  1. Tuesday, November 3, 2020 shortly after noon as a major Category 4 hurricane in Bilwi in Puerto Cabezas, which is located on the northeastern coast of Nicaragua before moving northwest into Honduras towards Guatemala and Belize
  2. Sunday, November 8, 2020 earlier in the morning as a tropical storm along the south central coast of Cuba
  3. Sunday, November 8, 2020 late at night as a tropical storm just southwest of Islamorada in Florida
  4. Thursday, November 9, 2020 earlier this morning as a tropical storm just south of Cedar Key in Florida

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If you are traveling to or from Honduras and Florida, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to this tropical weather system which may adversely affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary.

Here are five airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of this tropical weather system:

  • American Airlines has issued a travel alert for San Pedro Sula for Friday, November 6, 2020 through Monday, November 30, 2020; and Sunday, December 6, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued a travel alert for San Pedro Sula for Thursday, November 5, 2020 through Wednesday, November 25, 2020; and Wednesday, December 2, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • JetBlue Airways has issued travel alerts for Tampa and Sarasota for Wednesday, November 11, 2020 through Thursday, November 12, 2020; and Monday, November 16, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Frontier Airlines has issued travel alerts for Tampa and Jacksonville for Wednesday, November 11, 2020 through Thursday, November 12, 2020; and Friday, November 20, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Spirit Airlines has issued a travel alert for San Pedro Sula for Thursday, November 5, 2020 through Wednesday, November 25, 2020; and Sunday, December 6, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.

Summary

The year 2020 is now the most active year in recorded history in terms of 29 total named tropical systems — the latest being Tropical Storm Theta, which is still heading east towards Africa — and hurricane season is not over until Monday, November 30, 2020 with a new tropical system located in the eastern Caribbean sea which is expected to be named Iota as soon as later this week. That will break yet another record in meteorological history, as the World Meteorological Organization has never dipped this far into the Greek alphabet to name storms.

I personally believe that the World Meteorological Organization, the National Weather Service of the United States and other official weather authorities should consider using the letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z to name tropical systems — especially with the inclusion of names which are not common in the United States. Quincy, Ursula, Xavier, Yvonne, and Zachary all come immediately to my mind to name storms which usually do not require those letters during a typical season. Only once the entire alphabet has been exhausted should the characters of the Greek alphabet be used…

…and ironically, the Greek alphabet uses a name which begins with the letter Z. Why not use one of the aforementioned names which begin with the letter Z?

As far as I know, the name of a tropical system after a character of the Greek alphabet has never been retired. What happens if a storm is strong enough to warrant the name being retired and it is named after a character of the Greek alphabet?

Anyway, be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are affected — and please: travel safely.

Source: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the Department of Commerce of the United States.

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