(AP) – Eta has weakened to a tropical storm just hours after regaining hurricane strength as Florida braces for a second hit from the storm. The storm’s maximum sustained winds decreased Wednesday afternoon to around 70 mph off Florida’s southwest coast.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a hurricane watch for a 120-mile stretch that includes Tampa and St. Petersburg. The storm has been in the Gulf of Mexico since crossing over South Florida on Sunday.
The latest hurricane watch extends from Anna Maria Island, which is south of St. Petersburg, to Yankeetown. The latest forecast prompted school officials in Pinellas and Pasco counties to send students home early Wednesday. Both counties announced schools would remain closed Thursday.