Eta loses punch before hitting Ocala


Vivian Herrera of the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department picks up palm fronds that came down in Tropical Storm Eta at Tuscawilla Park in Ocala, Fla. on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

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Posted November 13, 2020 | By Brad Rogers, Ocala Gazette

Vivian Herrera of the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department picks up palm fronds that came down in Tropical Storm Eta at Tuscawilla Park in Ocala, Fla. on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

The Ocala/Marion County region was spared damaging winds and rain from Hurricane Eta late Wednesday and early Thursday, recording just .31 inch of rain and experiencing scattered power outages.

Meteorologist Kip Bricker with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville said Thursday the Ocala area escaped any significant impact from Eta, even though the storm made landfall near Cedar Key and passed across neighboring Levy County. The storm was weakened by a dry air mass as it moved into North Central Florida, further diminishing its impact, Bricker said.

Meanwhile, Marion County Public Schools were closed Thursday as early forecasts had called for wind gusts in excess of 40 mph, which are unsafe conditions for school busses to travel in. The winds, thankfully, did not occur but schools were closed anyway.

School district spokesman Kevin Christian said a make-up day is scheduled for Dec. 18, something that was planned at the start of the year as a hurricane make-up day.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Paul Bloom said there was little damage reported to his agency from around the county. He said there were reports of some limbs down and scattered power outages, but they were being addressed Thursday morning. Bloom said there were no reports of flooding of roads.

Ocala city spokeswoman Ashley Dobbs said the city experienced a few power outages but nothing widespread. Crews were working early Thursday to restore lost power,

“From a city perspective, we have been very fortunate,” Dobbs said.

The NWS forecast for Friday, Saturday and Sunday calls for sunny skies Friday and Saturday, with a slight chance of rain on Sunday.

Ken Senger, left, and Donnie Ritenour, right, both of Fort Lauderdale, try to stay dry in rain from Tropical Storm Eta as they walk on Northeast 10th Street near the intersection of North Magnolia Avenue in Ocala, Fla. on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.