Hurricane Zeta Now A Category 2 Storm On Path To The Northern Gulf Coast
Portions of the Florida Panhandle are under a tropical storm warning, but the good news: This is a fast-moving storm.
A day after weakening following landfall in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Zeta has regained hurricane strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on a path toward the Louisiana Gulf coast.
Zeta is now a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the hurricane center said Zeta was located about 145 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It is racing to the north-northeast at 20 mph.
Portions of the Florida Panhandle are under a tropical storm warning.
Although it will be a quick mover, Megan Borowski, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, says the storm will still pose hazards to parts of the Panhandle
“The brunt of Zeta’s impacts should pass north of Florida, but a line of storms capable of heavy rain, tropical storm force wind gusts, and isolated tornadoes should track through the western Panhandle (Wednesday night), and the central Panhandle (Thursday),” Borowski said. “The good news is, very strong upper level winds should scoop Zeta up and accelerate it to the Northeast. It should be well removed from the Southeast by Thursday evening.”
Pockets of flash flooding are possible, but the quick movement of the storm should limit total rainfall amounts to around 1 inch in the western Florida Panhandle to as high as 2-4 inches in a swath from southeast Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama, north Georgia, and the Upstate of South Carolina.
The Gulf coast is bracing for its eighth landfalling tropical storm or hurricane this season. If Zeta landfalls as a hurricane, it would tie the Continental U.S. record of six landfalling hurricanes in a single season, last set in 1985 and 1886.
Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network was used in this report.