FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Zeta likely takes aim at Louisiana

FIRST ALERT FORECAST: Monday, Oct. 26 - 10 p.m.

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It has been a beautiful day around the area, but the threat of yet another tropical landfall dominates the weather story.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) guidance has remained relatively steadfast in its anticipation of a Louisiana landfall by Zeta. While the official forecast suggests landfall as a tropical storm, the prudent approach would be to presume a strike at Category 1 intensity.

Cat. 1 Zeta
Cat. 1 Zeta (Source: WAFB)
Hurricane Zeta track
Hurricane Zeta track (Source: WAFB)

The most likely arrival time for landfall appears to be Wednesday night/pre-dawn Thursday, but tropical storm force winds are likely to arrive along the coast by midday Wednesday. Metro Baton Rouge could see winds in the 20s and 30s (mph) as early as Wednesday afternoon or early evening.

Zeta wind probabilities
Zeta wind probabilities (Source: WAFB)

The official forecast has been trending with a landfall that would keep metro Baton Rouge on the west side of the storm track, but that’s far from a certainty at this time. If Zeta were to track just a little farther to the west over the next 48 hours, the landfall area would likely get nudged westward too.

Zeta estimated peak storm surge
Zeta estimated peak storm surge (Source: WAFB)

Rains linked to Zeta’s circulation are expected to begin as early as Tuesday afternoon. Thankfully, however, excessively large rain amounts are not anticipated given Zeta’s anticipated forward speed. Areas to the west of the final track will likely see totals of 3″ or less. Locations along and east of the track could see as much as 5″ to 7″, but Zeta’s relatively fast forward speed should keep totals well under double digits everywhere.

Zeta rainfall estimates
Zeta rainfall estimates (Source: WAFB)

The primary threats are expected to be damaging winds near and east of the final storm track along with storm surge for sections of coastal Louisiana as well as the tidal lakes.

Power outages will be likely once again for the WAFB area. Businesses, government operations, and area schools need to give some serious thought to their Wednesday afternoon schedules, but the good news is the tropical threat will be gone by Thursday morning and areas impacted by storm surge should see a steady retreat of any flood waters.

Locally, we will enjoy fair to partly cloudy skies overnight and into Tuesday morning with daybreak temperatures around the Red Stick in the low to mid 60°s. Passing showers with occasional thunderstorms can be expected Tuesday afternoon and will continue into Tuesday evening and overnight as the first rain bands associated with Zeta start rolling into the region. High temperatures Tuesday will reach the low 80°s, above normal for this time of year.

Tuesday pinpoint forecast
Tuesday pinpoint forecast (Source: WAFB)

Rain is likely through the day Wednesday and into the night as Zeta draws near, makes landfall, and then tracks inland.

We will experience an unusual weather setup as Zeta’s landfall will occur just ahead of the arrival and ultimate passage of a strong cold front. Rains could linger into early Thursday, but given Zeta’s rapid movement to the northeast and the near immediate frontal passage after landfall, skies should be clearing across the WAFB area by Thursday afternoon.

Hurricane Zeta
Hurricane Zeta (Source: WAFB)
Hurricane Zeta
Hurricane Zeta (Source: WAFB)

High temperatures Thursday will barely reach the 70°s for many WAFB neighborhoods and the Storm Team forecast is currently calling for highs in the upper 60°s around the Baton Rouge metro area Friday. The last time Metro Airport reported a high in the 60°s was back on May 9.

Expect mainly sunny skies Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with weekend highs in the low 70°s. And yes, that should mean comfortably cool temperatures in the 60°s Saturday evening as the kids enjoy Halloween festivities.

10-day forecast
10-day forecast (Source: WAFB)

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