Hurricane Zeta makes landfall in Louisiana as Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida - Hurricane Zeta, which has been increasing in intensity and speed all day, lands in southeast Louisiana as a Category 2 storm at 110 mph. Advice from the National Hurricane Center.
Zeta, traveling at a speed of 24 miles per hour, is almost a Category 3 hurricane that is considered a major hurricane. A Category 3 hurricane has winds between 111 and 129 miles per hour. Zeta was 1 mph from the fifth major hurricane of the year, which was followed by Laura, Teddy, Delta and Epsilon.
Zeta landed near Cocodrie, Louisiana, according to the NHC.
Zeta was the record-breaking 11th storm to land in the US during the 2020 hurricane season, almost all along the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast.
But Zeta's national strength was not predicted. Tuesday's forecast was for Zeta to land in or near Category 1 status, which means winds between 74 and 95 miles per hour.
Zeta surprisingly experienced a rapid intensification, which is defined as an increase in wind of at least 35 miles per hour over a 24 hour period.
The storm was a Category 1 hurricane when it landed in Mexico overnight on Monday. However, after interacting with the land, he fell into a tropical storm.
Zeta was 65 miles south-southwest of New Orleans at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. advisory. Hurricane strength winds extended 35 miles from the center of the storm and tropical gale force winds extended 150 miles from the center.
This is the seventh time New Orleans has been in the Hurricane Center storm cone this year, according to The Weather Channel.
"On the forecast route, the center of Zeta will make a second landing along the Mississippi coast tonight," said the NHC, "and then move across the southeast and east of the United States on Thursday."
Zeta is expected to cause problems throughout the south and east coast.
"A couple of tornadoes are expected over the southeastern parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, southern Alabama and the western panhandle of Florida this afternoon through tonight," forecasters said Wednesday.
Parts of the panhandle could see a storm surge of 1 to 4 feet, while areas outside of Florida are in a forecast range of 1 to 9 feet.
A state of emergency was declared in Alabama and Louisiana on Tuesday, ahead of the storm's arrival.
The NHC said heavy rainfall is expected both off and along the stretch of Zeta from the central Gulf Coast to the valleys in the middle of the Mississippi and Ohio. Precipitation ventures into the southern to central Appalachians and on Wednesdays and Thursdays in the central Atlantic.
The NHC also said harmful winds, especially when gusty, will spread inland across parts of southeastern Mississippi, Alabama and northern Georgia from Wednesday evening through early Thursday morning.
Damaging winds are expected to hit the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia on Thursday. It was said that gusts of wind could be particularly strong in the southern Appalachians on Thursday.
It is predicted that at some point Zeta will mix with the winter storm that hits the southern part of the United States.
"They'll be a little harder to tell apart until Thursday or Friday, for example," said Jonathan Belles, IBM meteorologist at Weather.com. "They basically become a huge mass of precipitation as it moves in the central Atlantic and northeast."
According to Bob Smerbeck, chief meteorologist at AccuWeather, gusts of wind of 40 to 50 miles per hour can occur in New Jersey.
Although Hurricane Zeta traveled a similar path as Hurricane Delta, it was not a candidate for rapid intensification like Delta.
It's late in hurricane season so the water is a little cooler. In general, the waters in the Gulf of Mexico are warmest in September. In addition, the jet stream has sunk further south and creates more wind shear.
Zeta turned out to be irrelevant.
Interestingly, Zeta hit the only place on the Gulf Coast that has cooler waters.
"They are above average along the Texas coast and above average near the Florida coast," said Smerbeck, "but they split exactly between the mean temperatures."
Past storms could be responsible for the average water temperatures as they brought cooler water up from the lower part of the ocean as they made their way through Louisiana.
Zeta has also proven that this is largely irrelevant.
Worse, Louisiana may not be in the safe zone yet as there could be more tropical activity as early as next week.
Meteorologists are also observing a system that could form in the southwestern Caribbean.
"That is exactly what we are looking for at this time of year at the end of these cold fronts. They get into the Gulf or the Southwest Atlantic, the Bahamas and Cuba and places like these," said Smerbeck. "We are concerned that there is some potential for a tropical system to develop next week."
Right now it is too early to make a definite prediction, but forecasters are paying attention.
"I don't know if something would actually try to get from the Caribbean to the USA," said Smerbeck, "but there is potential for another tropical system in the northwestern Caribbean or perhaps even in Campeche Bay." in the southwest gulf, this general area and maybe east of the Bahamas. "
Zeta formed as a tropical storm south of western Cuba in the early hours of the morning on Sunday. Only for the second time in history has a hurricane season produced 27 named storms.
The only other storm named Zeta was in 2005, when a system was developed on December 30th, one month after the official end of the hurricane season, which lasted into the first week of 2006.
If there is a record breaking next named storm, it will be assigned Eta from the Greek alphabet.
Although both 2005 and 2020 had 27 named storms, a re-analysis of the 2005 season revealed that a 28th system briefly turned into a subtropical storm far in the Atlantic on October 4, 2005. This earlier unnamed storm is now known as the "Azores Sub-Tropical Storm," "according to AccuWeather. For this reason, 2005 technically still holds the title of the busiest hurricane season - for the time being.
Even in five weeks hurricane season 2020, a La Niña year that saw four major hurricanes emerge, was unforgettable for many reasons.
A record of 24 storms was the earliest of the previous seasons to get its name.
A record of 11 named storms has landed in the continental US - Bertha, Cristobal, Fay, Hanna, Isaiah, Laura, Marco, Sally, Beta, Delta and Zeta. The previous mark was 1916 storms in 1916, according to hurricane specialist Dr. Philip Klotzbach from Colorado State University.
Never before has a hurricane named after a letter of the Greek alphabet landed in the continental United States. This year, three hurricanes did just that: Beta hit the northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, Delta on southwest Louisiana in October on September 22nd. 10 and Zeta hit southeast Louisiana.
The hurricane delta became the strongest storm ever named after a letter in the Greek alphabet and the fastest storm ever amplified from a tropical depression to a Category 4 hurricane.
Tropical storms Arthur and Bertha formed before the start of hurricane season on June 1st. This marked the second time in history that two storms had formed before the start of the season.
Of particular note is September with 10 named storms - a record for this month. The previous record for September was eight named storms in 2002, 2007 and 2010.
On September 14, five tropical cyclones spun simultaneously, one of them far from the record that Klotzbach said was set between September 11 and 12, 1971. The September 14 frenzy had Tropical Storms Paulette, Rene, Sally and Teddy, and Tropical Depression 21, which was the second time the Atlantic Basin had five or more storms at the same time.
Four days later, on September 18, three record storms formed within six hours - Tropical Storm Wilfred (Eastern Atlantic), Subtropical Storm Alpha (near Portugal) and Tropical Storm Beta (Gulf of Mexico). The only other day on which three storms occurred was, according to Klotzbach, more than 100 years ago, on August 15, 1893.
October was also active with four named storms (Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Zeta). The last time there were four or more named storms in October was in 2005 when that month had six named storms plus this unnamed subtropical storm.
The 2020 hurricane season was forecast to be above average by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in May, but updated to extremely active in August.
While Florida got away practically unscathed south of the Panhandle in 2020, Louisiana was brutalized by five of the aforementioned storms - Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta and tropical storms Cristobal and Marco.
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© 2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
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