Tropical Storm Zeta formed in the Caribbean Sunday morning, with the National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasting the storm could strengthen into a hurricane Tuesday as a midweek landfall is expected on the US Gulf Coast. Zeta could strike the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday. More specifically, hurricane models, as of Sunday afternoon, predict storm surge, rainfall, and hurricane wind impacts could be seen from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
To remind readers, on June 1, day one of hurricane season, we said this season “could be above average, with 13 to 19 named storms.” And to our surprise, Zeta is the 27th named storm, tying 2005 as the most active hurricane season on record.
In early August, one month before La Nina was declared, we said the hurricane season is about to go “from bad to worse with La Nina odds up.” By Sept. 10, the Climate Prediction Center confirmed La Nina, a weather pattern in the Northern Hemisphere that fuels more tropical activity.
On Sunday afternoon, Zeta was located a few hundred miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and had maximum sustained winds of up to 40 mph. Here’s NHC’s 1700 ET Tropical Storm Zeta Outlook:
In early October, Hurricane Delta forced offshore oil and gas production on the Gulf Coast to reduce output by nearly two-thirds. Now Zeta is headed for the same region.
Ahead of potential landfall on the northern Gulf Coast next week, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted Sunday that “it’s unfortunate we face another tropical threat this late in a very active season.”
Edwards said, “We must roll up our sleeves, like we always do, and prepare for a potential impact to Louisiana.”
If Zeta makes landfall in Louisiana, it would be the fifth named storm this season, with the previous landfalls made by Cristobal, Laura, Marco, and Delta.