Tropical Storm Eta races off Carolinas after soaking Florida

Tropical_Weather_73785 A vehicle lists in floodwaters late Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, as Tropical Storm Eta nears Safety Harbor, Fla.
Small pieces of debris are in the downtown area of Safety Harbor, Fla., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, as Tropical Storm Eta nears the area.
Water floods a street along the marina late Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, as Tropical Storm Eta nears Safety Harbor, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_65473 A sailboat is washed ashore in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Madeira Beach, Fla. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it slogged over the state before making landfall near Cedar Key, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_09834 Debris is strewn across a pedestrian bridge along the shore of the bay Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Safety Harbor, Fla. Tropical Storm Eta passed just off the coast of Pinellas County with torrential rain and storm surge. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it moved over Florida after making landfall north of the heavily populated Tampa Bay area Thursday morning.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_80417 Otto Lohmann, 87, inspects the remnants of storm surge which entered his utility room and garage overnight at his home in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Oldsmar, Fla. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it moved over Florida after making landfall north of the heavily populated Tampa Bay area Thursday morning.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_24880 An 8-inch water line remains on the door of Otto Lohmann's garage, the mark of storm surge which entered his utility room and garage overnight at his home on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Oldsmar, Fla., in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta. The storm dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it moved over Florida after making landfall north of the heavily populated Tampa Bay area Thursday morning.
Tropical_Weather_22710 A street sign is damaged in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in the Passe-A-Grille neighborhood of St. Pete Beach, Fla. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it slogged over the state before making landfall near Cedar Key, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_62955 The Gulfport Casino is cordoned off as debris covers the sidewalk in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Gulfport, Fla. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it slogged over the state before making landfall near Cedar Key, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_81517 A woman jogs past a pile of sand which washed ashore in the in the Passe-A-Grille neighborhood of St. Pete Beach, Fla. in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it slogged over the state before making landfall near Cedar Key, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_65357 People drive through flooded areas downtown, the morning after Tropical Storm Eta battered Tampa Bay, leaving damage from flooding and wind in communities throughout, on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020 in Gulfport, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_07230 Leland Holland, of Oldsmar, Fla., inspects the flooded living room of his neighbor, Troy Shiltz, which was flooded overnight Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it moved over Florida after making landfall north of the heavily populated Tampa Bay area Thursday morning.
Tropical_Weather_31582 Flooding is seen at Tampa General Hospital as Tropical Storm Eta sends torrential downpours, storm surge flooding and wind across the Tampa Bay Area on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_22690 Garry Sears, 75, starts the process of cleaning up his garage which was tossed by more than a foot of storm surge which entered the garage overnight at his home on Shore Drive E. Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Oldsmar, Fla., in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta. The storm dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it moved over Florida after making landfall north of the heavily populated Tampa Bay area Thursday morning.
Tropical_Weather_Florida_75636 Pedestrians walk past a damaged pier Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Safety Harbor, Fla. Tropical Storm Eta passed just off the coast of Pinellas County with torrential rain and storm surge. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it moved over Florida after making landfall north of the heavily populated Tampa Bay area Thursday morning.
Hotel guests carry their luggage across flooded Benjamin Franklin Dr. to get to their car on Lido Key in Sarasota, Fla. on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020 as Hurricane Eta passes to the west in the Gulf of Mexico.
A driver navigates around vehicles stalled in the middle of Benjamin Franklin Dr. on Lido Key in Sarasota, Fla. on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020 as Hurricane Eta passes to the west in the Gulf of Mexico.
Erika Lane takes photos of the surf at Lido Public Beach in Sarasota, Fla. on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020 as Hurricane Eta passes to the west in the Gulf of Mexico.
A man makes his way along Bayshore Blvd in heavy rain due to Tropical Storm Eta, on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020 in Tampa, Fla. Eta has weakened to a tropical storm just hours after regaining hurricane strength as Florida braces for a second hit from the storm.
Nancy Ferro of Dunedin, Fla., center, and Charmyn Nixon of New Port Richey, wait for rides home in heavy rain from Tropical Storm Eta in downtown Tarpon Springs after they were sent home early from work. Eta has weakened to a tropical storm just hours after regaining hurricane strength as Florida braces for a second hit from the storm.
Tropical_Weather_75018 People walk past boats on the beach in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Gulfport, Fla. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it slogged over the state before making landfall near Cedar Key, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_76163 Boats sit on the beach in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Gulfport, Fla. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it slogged over the state before making landfall near Cedar Key, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_94196 An entrance to a pier is cordoned off as boats lie along the seawall in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Gulfport, Fla. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it slogged over the state before making landfall near Cedar Key, Fla.
Tropical_Weather_34578 People walk past past boats on the beach in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Eta, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Gulfport, Fla. Eta dumped torrents of blustery rain on Florida's west coast as it slogged over the state before making landfall near Cedar Key, Fla.
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tropical Storm Eta raced off the Southeast Atlantic seacoast late Thursday, spreading heavy rains and gusty winds around the Carolinas only hours after blustering across north Florida.

One death in Florida was linked to the storm, along with some scattered flooding and forecasters said the tropical storm was on a path offshore of South Carolina that would eventually take it further out to sea.

The storm system triggered flash flooding, multiple water rescues and road closures, and at least one collapsed bridge in South Carolina, said Sandy LaCourte, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greenville, South Carolina.

“It’s unfortunately been a tough day for the Carolinas today,” LaCourte said.

Some parts of the Carolinas saw three to seven inches (7.5 to 17 centimeters) of rainfall already by Thursday afternoon with more expected. That came amid a combination of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico being carried up by a cold front that had pushed Eta across Florida earlier.

At 10 p.m., the storm was centered about 65 miles (100 kilometers) east-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. It had top sustained winds of 45 mph (17 kph) and was moving to the northeast at 17 mph (28 kph). The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Eta was expected to pick up forward speed in the next day or so as it pulls away from the Southeast seaboard.

Earlier Thursday, Eta was in the Gulf of Mexico when it slogged ashore near Cedar Key, Florida. It then moved northeast across Florida in a matter of hours before crossing over into the Atlantic, forecasters said.

Although it was not the most powerful storm to hit the U.S. this year, Eta had broad impacts across the Tampa Bay region on Florida’s Gulf Coast, buffeting an area of more than 3.5 million people with gusty winds and rain.

In Bradenton Beach, Florida, Mark Mixon stepped into his flooded garage as he was laying sandbags around his home Wednesday evening and was electrocuted, said Jacob Saur, director of public safety for Manatee County. There were appliances plugged into the garage and Mixon was killed when he stepped into the water, Saur said.

The storm earlier forced the closure of some lanes of Tampa Bay bridges because of storm surge but they began reopening Thursday. Also reopened was the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in the region.

Earlier, firefighters in Tampa had to rescue around a dozen people who got stuck in storm surge flooding on a boulevard adjacent to the bay. Some vehicles remained on the roadway Thursday. Isolated neighborhoods also experienced enough flooding to evacuate.

J.P. Brewer, owner of Salty’s Gulfport, was cleaning up after her beachside restaurant flooded early Thursday.

“It was pretty bad last night when I came in,” she said, adding that there were already 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 centimeters) of water inside by just before high tide. “We’re in here doing our cleanup today and assessing the damage. I think we fared pretty well considering as bad as it looked last night.”

Several sailboats broke free from their moorings and washed ashore in Gulfport, Florida, including the vessel where Mo Taggart has lived for two years with her dog. She thinks the boat is a total loss.

“I mean, it was disaster,” Taggart said. “I mean, I came out here. My boat’s just up against the seawall, just smashing, smashing … I need to get another boat. I want to be back on the water, (my dog) wants to be back on the water.”

The storm had made an earlier landfall in South Florida on Sunday after lashing Central America and Mexico with deadly force. Before that first brush with Florida, Eta first hit Nicaragua as a Category 4 hurricane and killed at least 120 people in Central America and Mexico, with scores more missing.

It was the 28th named storm of a busy Atlantic hurricane season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. A 29th named system, Tropical Storm Theta, was centered late Thursday about 440 miles (705 kilometers) south of the Azores and moving east. It had top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph).

This extraordinarily busy season has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.

___

Frisaro reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Associated Press photographer Lynne Sladky and video reporter Cody Jackson contributed to this report from Pinellas County and AP reporter Michelle Liu contributed from Columbia, S.C.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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