The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Zeta – now a tropical storm - has moved off the northern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and is likely to restrengthen into a hurricane as it moves out over the Gulf of Mexico later Tuesday.
In its latest report, the hurricane center says Zeta’s maximum sustained winds are at about 100 kilometers per hour (kph), just below hurricane strength. Forecasters expect the storm to move out over the warm waters of the gulf, strengthen later Tuesday, then pick speed as it moves towards the southeastern U.S. coast.
The forecasters say on its current trajectory, Zeta will likely come ashore in eastern Louisiana or western Mississippi late Wednesday or early Thursday. The storm is likely to be a category one hurricane by the time it strikes the coast.
If Zeta does come ashore in Louisiana, it will be the third major storm to hit the state this year, following Hurricane Laura in August and Delta earlier this month. The state has spent a cumulative total of at least three weeks in the National Hurricane Center’s forecast zone for a possible hurricane this season.
Zeta is the 11th hurricane and record-tying 27th named storm to form this season.
With more than four weeks left in the season, the record may fall. It is only the second time the hurricane center has gone this deep into the Greek alphabet to select names for a storm. The previous Zeta was in 2005 and marked the last storm of that season.