- Zeta is the 27th named storm of one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record.
- Hurricane conditions and life-threatening storm surge are expected along portions of the northern Gulf Coast by late Wednesday.
- Zeta made landfall late Monday evening just north of the ancient Mayan city of Tulum with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.
Zeta is a hurricane once again.
After weakening to a tropical storm after coming ashore late Monday on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Zeta regained hurricane strength early Wednesday as it charged toward a projected afternoon landfall in the U.S. Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of 1 a.m. CDT, Zeta carried top winds of 75 mph, a weak Category 1 hurricane, but the Hurricane Center warned of “additional strengthening” ahead of landfall. It was centered over the Gulf of Mexico and moving northwest at 15 mph, about 365 miles south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 410 miles south of New Orleans.
“Hurricane conditions and life-threatening storm surge are expected along portions of the northern Gulf Coast by late Wednesday, and storm surge and hurricane warnings are in effect,” the Hurricane Center said. “Residents in the watch areas should follow any advice given by local officials.”
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A hurricane warning extends from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi/Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and metropolitan New Orleans, the Hurricane Center said.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared an emergency ahead of the storm. And commercial fishermen began a familiar hurricane preparation ritual.
“We’re getting pretty good at it for doing it five times this season so far,” said Robert Campo as he readied his marina at Shell Beach for the storm.
Already this year, Louisiana has been hit by two tropical storms and two hurricanes: Laura, blamed for at least 27 Louisiana deaths after it struck in August, and Delta, which exacerbated Laura’s damage in the same area weeks later.
Near where Zeta is expected to make landfall as early as Wednesday afternoon, strong wind gusts will threaten to bring down trees and power lines, AccuWeather said. Isolated tornadoes will also be a threat in the Southeast during the second half of the week.
Between Tuesday night and Thursday, as Zeta approaches and makes landfall, heavy rain is also expected from portions of the central Gulf Coast into the southern Appalachians and mid-Atlantic states, the Hurricane Center warned.
This rainfall will likely lead to flooding.
Zeta, the 27th named storm of one of the busiest Atlantic hurricane seasons on record, made landfall late Monday just north of the ancient Mayan city of Tulum with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.
Zeta broke the record for the previous earliest 27th Atlantic named storm that formed Nov. 29, 2005. It’s also the 11th hurricane of the season. An average season sees six hurricanes and 12 named storms.
There have been so many storms this season that the hurricane center had to turn to the Greek alphabet after running out of assigned names.
Zeta is the furthest into the Greek alphabet the Atlantic season has gone. There was also a Tropical Storm Zeta in 2005, but that year had 28 storms because meteorologists later went back and found they missed one, which then became an “unnamed named storm.”
Hurricane season runs until Nov. 30.
Contributing: Steve Kiggins, USA TODAY; The Associated Press