BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Zeta has continued to gradually organize since Sunday and was upgraded to a hurricane Monday afternoon. The official forecast calls for Zeta to make landfall over the northern Yucatan Peninsula early Tuesday.
On Monday, Oct. 26 Governor John Bel Edwards issued a state of emergency in advance of Hurricane Zeta, which could impact Louisiana later in the week, although the final track is still uncertain.
“While there is some uncertainty in Zeta’s track, it is likely that Louisiana will see some impacts from this storm, and the people of our state need to take it seriously. It’s easy to let your guard down late in the hurricane season, but that would be a huge mistake,” Gov. Edwards said.
While land interaction with the northern Yucatan may result in a slight disruption to Zeta’s intensity, that impact is expected to be limited and conditions appear favorable for the system to either maintain its intensity or see a slight increase in winds as it moves across the southern Gulf of Mexico.
By Wednesday as it moves farther north in the Gulf, increasing wind shear and cooler sea surface temperatures may be enough to impart at least some slight weakening. However, the 10 a.m. forecast indicates Zeta will likely reach the coast of southeast Louisiana by late Wednesday near or just below hurricane intensity.
Hurricane and Storm Surge Watches will likely be issued for the northern Gulf Coast, including parts of Louisiana, with the afternoon advisory. If anything close to the current forecast track verifies, the greatest impacts would extend from coastal southeast Louisiana through metro New Orleans and eastward to coastal Mississippi and Alabama.
On the current forecast path, metro Baton Rouge might see a few wind gusts to tropical storm force and rains ranging from 1″ to 3″, but would likely avoid any widespread significant impacts. But with landfall still nearly 60 hours away, we need to remain vigilant for any potential shifts back to the west.
While some rain will begin to impact our area as soon as Tuesday afternoon and evening, the primary impact window currently appears slated for late Wednesday into early Thursday. Weather should rapidly improve during the day on Thursday as Zeta moves inland and merges with a cold front.
It’s worth noting that should Zeta make landfall in Louisiana, it would be the fifth named storm to do so during the 2020 hurricane season. That would be a new record surpassing the 2002 season when Louisiana saw landfalls from Bertha, Hanna, Isidore, and Lili.
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