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            Tropical Depression Eta path shifts; storm may wind up in Gulf of Mexico by next week

            Tropical Depression Eta track 9 p.m. Thursday

            Eta could strengthen to a tropical storm again and head northeast toward Cuba and South Florida.

            Eta was still a tropical depression and still dumping devastating rain on parts of Central America on Thursday night.

            The National Hurricane Center is forecasting Eta, which made landfall in Nicaragua on Tuesday as a Category 4 hurricane, to move back into the Caribbean and become a tropical storm again, possibly as soon as Friday.

            Then it could track toward Cuba and South Florida and then move into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

            The hurricane center’s long-range track has again shifted as of Thursday night -- this time to the north -- and now shows the center of the storm moving over the Florida Keys on Sunday. The forecast shows the storm turning more to the west by Sunday and heading into the Gulf and away from the Florida peninsula.

            However, forecasters cautioned that the long-range track forecast was a very uncertain one, as well as the intensity forecast.

            As of 9 p.m. CST Thursday, the center of Tropical Depression Eta was located about 470 miles west-southwest of Grand Cayman and was moving north at 8 mph.

            The depression had winds of 35 mph. Tropical storm force winds begin at 39 mph, and forecasters expect it to become a tropical storm again on Friday.

            It should reach the Cayman Islands and Cuba over the weekend. A tropical storm watch has been issued for the Cayman Islands. Tropical storm watches may be coming for Cuba on Friday.

            “Although the details of the future track and intensity of Eta are uncertain, there is an increasing risk of impacts from wind and rainfall in portions of Cuba, southern Florida and the Florida Keys this weekend and early next week,” the hurricane center said Thursday.

            Eta will continue to pose serious problems for Central America. Forecasters heavy rainfall is expected to continue through Monday and “will lead to catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding across portions of Central America, along with landslides in areas of higher terrain.”

            Here’s a look at flooding in Honduras shared by a National Hurricane Center forecaster:

            There are no other systems being watched for development as of Thursday. The Atlantic hurricane season comes to a close (hopefully) on Nov. 30.