Zeta Expected To Reach Hurricane Strength Overnight

Oct 27, 2020
Originally published on October 27, 2020 5:21 pm

Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to become a hurricane again tonight and is still on track to make landfall on the Gulf Coast “late Wednesday or Wednesday night,” according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Zeta previously struck the Yucatan Peninsula as a hurricane and has been reforming in the Gulf of Mexico. At present, the center of the storm is located about 450 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the NHC. Tropical storm-force winds extend about 140 miles from the eye of the storm.

Zeta is still expected to be at or near Category 1 hurricane strength when it makes landfall somewhere within the hurricane warning area — anywhere from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

Previously issued hurricane warnings, tropical storm warnings, and storm surge warnings remain in effect for most areas, but the storm surge warning from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Atchafalaya has been discontinued.

During a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Gov. John Bel Edwards said he once again sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting a pre-landfall disaster declaration.

"No one should be complacent because it's late October, and it certainly feels like hurricane season should be behind us because historically speaking we don't typically get them this late in the year,” Edwards said. “But hurricane season is not over, and in fact it won't be over until the end of next month."

In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell has issued an emergency declaration.

4 p.m.

Sewerage and Waterboard of New Orleans officials have confirmed that one of the turbines powering the city’s drainage pumps is out of service ahead of Hurricane Zeta

They made the announcement during a press conference held Tuesday by Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other city officials in anticipation of the storm, which is expected to hit Southeast Louisiana on Wednesday as a Category 1 hurricane,

“One of the main bearings on the turbine has failed,” General Superintendent Robert Turner explained, adding that there were no signs that it would fail until it stopped working on Sunday.

Executive Director Ghassan Korban reassured residents that there is a plan in place.

“We have identified a source of power to every pump that we know we would need,” he said.

The Sewerage and Water Board has increased its staffing during the hurricane. Still, Turner admitted the city is running with very little margin for error.

When asked about his comfort level, Turner said, “Anytime it rains I’m not comfortable.”

1 p.m.

Tropical Storm Zeta has entered the Gulf of Mexico after crossing the Yucatan Peninsula and now begins it’s northward journey toward the central Gulf Coast.

The center of the storm was located about 520 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River at 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center (NHC). It’s expected to strengthen over the warm Gulf waters before making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane “late Wednesday or Wednesday night.”

The current forecast track appears unchanged, with Southeast Louisiana squarely in Zeta’s path.

A storm surge warning remains in place from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to Navarre, Florida. The NHC expects the highest surge to occur “somewhere between the mouth of the Pearl River and Dauphin Island, Alabama.”

A hurricane warning is in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border, and hurricane conditions are expected in those areas “by late Wednesday.”

A tropical storm warning is in place for coastal areas from the Mississippi-Alabama border to the Okaloosa-Walton County Line in Florida.

The NHC will release another full update on Zeta at 4 p.m.

Voluntary evacuations called for several areas

Voluntary evacuations are recommended for the following areas:

Orleans Parish

All areas outside of levee protection (Irish Bayou, Venetian Isles, and Lake Catherine) beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday

Jefferson Parish

Voluntary evacuation order goes into effect for the following areas:

  • The town of Jean Lafitte
  • Lower Lafitte
  • Crown Point
  • Barataria

9 a.m. Tuesday

Southeast Louisiana is under a hurricane warning Tuesday morning as Zeta reaches the northern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Once again a tropical storm, Zeta is moving northwest near 14 mph, according to the 7 a.m. report from the National Hurricane Center. The storm is expected to move over the southern Gulf of Mexico later this morning and restrengthen into a hurricane. It's forecast to then move over the central Gulf tonight, reaching the northern Gulf on Wednesday. 

Zeta is expected to make landfall in the hurricane warning area Wednesday evening or night.

The Mississippi coast is also under a hurricane warning. The advisory extends from Morgan City Louisiana to the Mississippi-Alabama border.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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