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Zeta making landfall on the Louisiana coast Wednesday evening

The storm will bring threat of rain, isolated tornadoes in Big Bend, South Georgia
Hurricane Zeta - Wednesday, Oct. 28 5 p.m.  advisory
Hurricane Zeta - Wednesday, Oct. 28 5 p.m. advisory(WCTV)
Published: Oct. 24, 2020 at 11:51 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2020 at 5:22 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Hurricane Zeta intensified as it was close to landfall on the Louisiana coast Wednesday afternoon.

Maximum sustained winds were at 110 mph as of the 5 p.m. Wednesday advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The minimum central pressure dropped to 970 millibars as it moved north-northeast at 24 mph.

Zeta’s structure showed signs of improvement throughout Wednesday with the storm showing an eye on satellite imagery in the afternoon. Hurricane Hunter aircraft continued to find dropping barometric pressure near the center of the hurricane during the afternoon. The National Hurricane Center said that Zeta was making landfall near Cocodrie, La.

Once it makes landfall, the storm will continue its fast northeasterly trek and bring strong winds and heavy rain to parts of the South as it becomes an extratropical low. The hazards for the Big Bend and South Georgia viewing area will be high surf and rip currents along the coast, and the potential of 1 to 3 feet of coastal flooding along the Apalachee Bay and Franklin County. There is also a very low chance of isolated tornadoes starting overnight Wednesday into Thursday. Be sure to have a way to receive warnings overnight and early Thursday morning.

Rain chances will also increase Thursday. A small craft advisory was also issued for the Big Bend offshore waters along with a coastal flood advisory. The coastal flood advisory expires 8 p.m. Thursday.

The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Zeta.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Zeta was once again a hurricane Wednesday morning as it aims for the Louisiana and Mississippi coastline.

Maximum sustained winds were at 90 mph with a minimum central pressure of 978 millibars, according to the 8 a.m. intermediate advisory from the National Hurricane Center. It was moving north at a faster 17 mph as the center was 260 southwest of the Mouth of the Mississippi River.

The storm is forecast to make landfall on the Louisiana coastline Wednesday afternoon and move to the Mississippi coastline in the evening, according to the National Hurricane Center. Zeta will continue to accelerate northeastward as it gets caught in a trough of low pressure aloft. The lack of oceanic energy and the interaction with the trough and a surface cold front will transition the low from a tropical to an extratropical low.

The hazards for the Big Bend and South Georgia viewing area will be high surf and rip currents along the coast, and the potential of 1 to 3 feet of coastal flooding along the Apalachee Bay and Franklin County. There is also a very low chance of isolated tornadoes starting Thursday morning. Rain chances will also increase Thursday.

A small craft advisory was also issued for the Big Bend offshore waters along with a coastal flood advisory.

“Peak flooding is expected during the time of high tide [Wednesday night] through Thursday afternoon,” according to the coast flood advisory statement from the National Weather Service in Tallahassee. “High tides near St Marks and Steinhatchee are early Thursday morning around 1:20 am ET and in the afternoon around 2 p.m. ET.”

The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Zeta.

This story was updated to reflect Hurricane Zeta making landfall.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Zeta remains a tropical storm as it moves northwestward, but it’s still forecast to hit the coastline of Louisiana potentially as a hurricane.

Maximum sustained winds remained at 65 mph according to the 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Zeta was still moving northwest at 14 mph with a minimum central pressure of 984 millibars. The center was located 450 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The tropical storm is forecast to become a hurricane later on Tuesday or early Wednesday before reaching cooler waters and higher vertical wind shear. A trough of low pressure aloft and a surface cold front will help steer the storm northeastward by Wednesday afternoon. Landfall could take place Wednesday evening or night in Louisiana and then potentially make a second landfall in Mississippi or Alabama. The storm would eventually become an extratropical low when it moves inland and interact with the front.

Despite Zeta’s distance from the Big Bend, some impacts can still be expected in the viewing area. Coastal flooding of up to 1 to 3 feet is possible along the Big Bend coastline, according to the National Hurricane Center. There is also a high risk of rip currents along area beaches. An isolated threat of tornadoes associated with thunderstorm bands from Zeta exists Thursday. The Storm Prediction has placed parts of the Big Bend and South Georgia under a level 1 (out of 5) risk of severe weather Thursday. A better chance of rain will be on Thursday that will being less than an inch of rain in many locations with locally higher amounts possible.

The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor the progress of Zeta.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Zeta weakened to a tropical storm as it crossed over the Yucatan Peninsula Monday night and Tuesday morning, but it is forecast to become a hurricane before making landfall in Louisiana and/or Mississippi late Wednesday.

Zeta’s center of circulation was located 25 miles north-northeast of Progreso, Mexico according to the 11 a.m. Tuesday advisory from the National Hurricane Center. The maximum sustained winds were 65 mph with a minimum central pressure of 985 millibars. It continued it’s northwest motion at 14 mph.

The colder cloud tops diminished Tuesday morning as it moved through the peninsula, but decent banding on the outer fringes of the storm as well as convection near the center remain. Zeta is forecast to regain strength to hurricane status sometime Tuesday, but cooler waters near the U.S. Gulf Coast along with higher wind shear should stop the intensification.

The ensemble computer guidance from the top global forecast models (European, American GFS and the UKMET) are in agreement with a landfall location between eastern Louisiana to Mobile Bay. The official forecast has landfall taking place sometime Wednesday evening as is moves northeastward ahead of an upper-level trough of low pressure that is still forecast to move into the Southeast.

Despite Zeta’s distance from the Big Bend, some impacts can still be expected in the viewing area. Coastal flooding of up to 1 to 3 feet is possible along the Big Bend coastline, according to the National Hurricane Center. There is also a high risk of rip currents along area beaches. An isolated threat of tornadoes associated with thunderstorm bands from Zeta exists Wednesday into Wednesday night for most of Southwest Georgia and the western Big Bend. Be sure to have a way to receive weather alerts overnight.

Rain chances will also heighten starting late Wednesday through Thursday as the remnants of Zeta merge with a trough and a surface cold front. But rainfall totals overall are forecast to be under an inch, though isolated higher amounts are possible.

The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor the progress of Zeta.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Zeta became the 11th hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season Monday afternoon according to the National Hurricane Center.

The hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph according to the 5 p.m. Monday advisory with a minimum central pressure of 981 millibars, unchanged from the special advisory issued at 3:10 p.m. The Zeta continued it’s northwesterly trek at 10 mph.

The storm’s cone of uncertainty stretches from central Louisiana eastward to near Pensacola as it’s projected to move into the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday and make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane. The Big Bend remains east of the cone, but some impacts could be felt - especially if the forecast path were to shift eastward. As of Monday evening, the greatest risk will be heavy rain - especially on Thursday as Zeta merges with an upper-level trough of low pressure that’s forecast to move from the Southwest U.S. to the Southeast. There will also be the threat of higher surf and a high risk of rip currents in area beaches.

Tropical storm watches were issued to the west of the Big Bend from the Okaloosa/Walton County Line westward to the Mississippi/Alabama border. This means tropical storm conditions are possible within the next 48 hours and those in the watch should be preparing for said conditions.

Those along the Gulf Coast should continue to monitor the progress of Hurricane Zeta.

This story was updated to reflect info from the 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tropical Storm Zeta, after gaining strength Sunday night, appeared to be not as organized late Monday morning. But the storm could be a hurricane before making landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast late Wednesday into early Thursday.

The tropical storm had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph as of the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Zeta was moving northwest at a faster 10 mph as it was 140 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. The minimum central pressure was at 992 millibars.

The convection was on the south and east side of the center of circulation late Monday morning with a small ball of thunderstorms firing up again near the center based on satellite imagery as of around 11 a.m. With high ocean heat content and wind shear forecast to relax in the region, Zeta is forecast to become a hurricane before making landfall late Monday.

The storm is forecast to move through the Yucatan Peninsula overnight Monday into early Tuesday. Zeta, still forecast to be a hurricane, is expected to move northward then northeasterly on Wednesday around the western side of a ridge of high pressure, and approach the U.S. Gulf Coast late Wednesday into early Thursday morning as it gets picked up by a trough of low pressure. The cone of uncertainty ranges from central Louisiana eastward to Pensacola. The latest European model ensembles have shifted slightly eastward and are similar to the American GFS members. The European model’s ensemble members had Zeta more westward with the Sunday runs.

It’s important to not be focused only on the path of the storm as the impacts will be felt farther from the storm. So far, Zeta is expected to bring heavy rain to the Big Bend and South Georgia with higher rain chances starting Wednesday and into Thursday. There will also be a threat of high seas and surf along with a high risk of rip currents. The odds for tropical-storm-force winds in the Big Bend and Southwest Georgia were less than 10% as of late Monday morning.

Those along the Gulf Coast need to continue to monitor the progress of Tropical Storm Zeta.

MIAMI (AP) — A strengthening Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to become a hurricane Monday as it heads toward the eastern end of Mexico’s resort-dotted Yucatan Peninsula and then likely move on for a possible landfall on the central U.S. Gulf Coast at midweek.

Zeta on Sunday became the earliest ever 27th named storm of the Atlantic season. The system was centered about 175 miles (285 kilometers) southeast of Cozumel island Monday morning, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph).

A strengthening Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to become a hurricane Monday as it heads toward...
A strengthening Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to become a hurricane Monday as it heads toward the eastern end of Mexico’s resort-dotted Yucatan Peninsula and then likely move on for a possible landfall on the central U.S. Gulf Coast at midweek.(WCTV)

The storm was moving northwest at around 9 mph (15 kph) after being nearly stationary over the weekend. Forecasters said Zeta was expected to move over the Yucatan Peninsula later Monday before heading into the Gulf of Mexico and then approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday, though it could weaken by then.

Officials in Quintana Roo state, the location of Cancun and other resorts, said they were watching the storm. They reported nearly 60,000 tourists in the state as of midweek. The state government said 71 shelters were being readied for tourists or residents who might need them.

The government is still handing out aid, including sheet roofing, to Yucatan residents hit by Hurricane Delta and Tropical Storm Gamma earlier this month.

A hurricane warning was expanded for the Yucatan Peninsula from Tulum to Dzilam, including Cancun and Cozumel.

Zeta had been dawdling Sunday because it was trapped between two strong high pressure systems to the east and west, and it could not move north or south because nothing was moving there either, said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.

Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach said that when a storm gets stuck, it can unload dangerous downpours over one place, causing flooding. That happened in 2017 over Houston with Harvey, when more than 60 inches (150 centimeters) of rain fell and in 2019 over the Bahamas with Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, which was the worst-case scenario of a stationary storm, he said.

The hurricane center said Zeta could bring 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain to Mexico, the Cayman Islands and parts of Cuba, before drenching the central U.S. Gulf Coast.

The storm could make landfall anywhere from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, forecasters said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged his state’s citizens to monitor the storm, and the state activated its Crisis Action Team.

Zeta broke the record for the previous earliest 27th Atlantic named storm that formed Nov. 29, 2005, Klotzbach said.

This year’s season has so many storms that the hurricane center has turned to the Greek alphabet after running out of official 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,” Klotzbach said.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - As of 11 p.m., Tropical Storm Zeta was 260 miles SE of Cozumel Mexico with sustained winds of 60 mph. The storm has started moving to the NNW at 2 mph. The thunderstorms associated with Zeta are to the south of the storm’s central area of low pressure. Hurricane Hunters determined that the storm is strengthening.

Zeta is expected to continue moving to the northwest strengthening into a category one hurricane as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula. The current NHC forecast has the storm making landfall along the Mississippi, Louisiana coastline by mid-week. However, there is still some uncertainty in the forecast, so the track could still change.

Potential impacts in the Big Bend and South Georgia include high surf, rip currents, and scattered showers and storms. The chance for tropical-storm-force winds is low in our area. However, if the track changes then local impacts could change. The WCTV Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor Zeta this week on-air, online, and on the WCTV Pinpoint Weather App.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - As of 8:00 p.m., Tropical Storm Zeta was 275 miles SE of Cozumel Mexico with sustained winds of 50 mph.

The storm will likely strengthen into a category one hurricane by Monday afternoon and make its way to the Yucatan Peninsula. The current track takes the storm into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, making landfall on Wednesday in the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama region.

There is still plenty of uncertainty with the current forecast. So it’s important to remember to watch for updates over the next several days.

Potential impacts in the Big Bend include high surf, rip currents, and mid-week showers and storms. Showers and storms will likely extend into South Georgia as well. The chance for tropical-storm-force winds in our region is low. However, it’s important to note that if the track shifts, potential impacts on our area could change. A great way to stay up to date on the forecast is through the WCTV Pinpoint Weather App.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The tropical depression in the Caribbean Sea was upgraded to tropical storm status early Sunday morning and it’s forecast to pose a threat to parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast in the new work week.

The storm was centered 290 miles south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba according to the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds were at 40 mph as the storm was nearly stationary.

Zeta, the 27th named storm in the Atlantic basin this season, appeared somewhat disorganized as the deep convection remained south of the 11 a.m. center fix, though the center of circulation was hard to find according to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. discussion. But decent upper-level outflow remained present. The ocean heat content is the highest in the Caribbean Sea, but Zeta could run into some trouble as it eventually moves into the Gulf of Mexico where the heat content isn’t the best and wind shear is expected to increase.

The storm is forecast to move northwestward slowly over the next 48 hours as a mid-level ridge of high pressure eventually takes the storm toward the Yucatan Peninsula. It has the potential to become a hurricane before reaching the Yucatan.

Zeta is forecast to move into the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday around the south and western side of the mid-level ridge. A trough of low pressure aloft is expected to move eastward from the U.S. Southwest to the Southeast by mid week. This is should help push the storm more north, then northeastward and accelerate its forward speed. The cone of uncertainty ranges from central Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle. The National Hurricane Center noted in an earlier discussion that there is uncertainty with the forecast because of the nature of the hand-off between the ridge and the trough as well as the storm’s slow movement on Sunday. The ensemble members of the European model run early Sunday morning had the path of Zeta fairly clustered over Louisiana while the American GFS' members were spread widely from Louisiana to the Big Bend.

Those along the Gulf Coast should continue to closely monitor the progress of Zeta into the work week. At the very least, the storm will help increase rain chances in the Big Bend and South Georgia from Tuesday to Thursday.

This story was updated to reflect the 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The National Hurricane Center upgraded the area of low pressure in the Caribbean Sea to a tropical depression Saturday evening.

Hurricane Hunter aircraft along with satellite imagery found that enough of the convection has consolidated enough to reach depression status according to the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. discussion.

The depression was centered 240 miles south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba according to the 8 p.m. intermediate advisory from the National Hurricane Center. It had maximum sustained winds of 30 mph as it moved slowly north-northwest at 2 mph.

It’s expected to move slowly northwestward through Tuesday into the Gulf of Mexico according to the official forecast and become a tropical storm as early as Sunday. The storm could become a hurricane by Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico, though the NHC notes that is uncertain. But with increasing wind shear from an upper-level trough of low pressure that’s forecast to move into the Southeast mid to late week along with cooler waters, it is forecast to be a tropical storm by Wednesday.

The cone of uncertainty stretches from western Louisiana eastward to near Panama City with a possible landfall late Wednesday, but the timing isn’t certain and location isn’t that certain as of this post. Those along the Gulf Coast need to monitor the progress of the system over the next several days.

Regardless of the strength, the low along with the aforementioned approaching trough of low pressure will help increase rain chances for the Big Bend and South Georgia mid to late work week.

The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor the progress of the depression.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The National Hurricane Center is watching a broad area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico that has a high chance of tropical development over the next five days, and it could pose a threat to the Gulf Coast.

The low was centered in the Caribbean Sea south of Cuba and west of the Yucatan Peninsula Saturday morning. The upper-level cloud cover showed good anticyclonic banding on the northern side earlier Saturday morning, a good sign of favorable upper-level conditions. A cluster of showers and thunderstorms also developed Saturday morning, but there wasn’t any sign of organization just yet. Recent scatterometer data from polar-orbiting satellites have yet to provide evidence of a closed center of circulation.

The storm has a chance of becoming a tropical depression this weekend according to the National Hurricane Center. It’s also expected to move into the Gulf of Mexico by Tuesday.

The forecast path of the low is a challenge because of the large spread with the operational and ensemble forecast models. With the low being relatively weak as well as the lack of data in the region, the uncertainty is there with the forecast models. The ensemble forecasts with the European and American GFS models range a “landfall” anywhere from Texas to the Florida Panhandle with varying strengths. There should be a better understanding with the forecast track over the next several days.

The sea surface temperatures in the Gulf are 80 degrees or warmer in the offshore waters, and water temps are slightly above normal in most of the Gulf of Mexico. But, the ocean heat content overall is night and day compared to the Caribbean Sea (high) and Gulf of Mexico (fairly low). The lower heat content in the Gulf could help tame a tropical cyclone’s potential strength.

The odds of tropical development were at 90% for the next two to five days, according to the National Hurricane Center’s outlook Saturday morning. The Pinpoint Weather Team will continue to monitor the progress of the system.

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