Zeta weakens to tropical storm entering the Gulf of Mexico


The National Hurricane Center says that as it passed over land, Zeta lost some of its punch.

"Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 70 mph with higher gusts," according to an advisory.

The system, however, is forecast to get stronger over water.

"Zeta is forecast to re-strengthen when it moves over the southern Gulf of Mexico later this morning, and become a hurricane again later today.  Zeta is forecast to be at or near hurricane strength when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast late Wednesday."


The Hurricane Center is still calling for a landfall in Southeast Louisiana.

"A Hurricane Warning has been issued from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi/Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and metropolitan New Orleans."

If that track holds; that would mean high winds, heavy rains and storm surge for the region.

"A Storm Surge Warning has been issued from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to Navarre, Florida, including Lake Borgne, LakePontchartrain, Vermilion Bay, Pensacola Bay, and Mobile Bay."

Forecasters say that could mean power outages and wind damage, along with up to six inches or rain and surge flooding outside the hurricane protection.


The water could reach the following heights above ground somewhere in the indicated areas if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide...

Port Fourchon LA to Dauphin Island AL including Lake Borgne...4-6 ft
Intracoastal City LA to Port Fourchon LA including Vermilion Bay...2-4 ft
Dauphin Island AL to Navarre FL including Mobile Bay and Pensacola Bay...2-4 ft
Lake Pontchartrain...2-4 ft
Navarre FL to Yankeetown FL including Choctawhatchee Bay and Saint Andrew Bay...1-3 ft


An initial area of heavy rains will begin to impact the central Gulf Coast tonight, spreading north into the Tennessee Valley on Wednesday.  The core of the heavy rains associated with Zeta will push northeast from eastern Louisiana, across southern Mississippi, Alabama, northern Georgia through Wednesday night, and through the southern Appalachians into the Mid-Atlantic on Thursday. Rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches with isolated amounts of 6 inches are expected across these areas, resulting in flash, urban, small stream, and minor river flooding.


Hurricane conditions are expected within the Hurricane Warning area on the northern Gulf Coast late Wednesday, with tropical storm conditions beginning Wednesday afternoon. Tropical storm conditions are expected within the Tropical Storm Warning area on the northern Gulf coast by late Wednesday, and tropical storm conditions are possible within the Tropical Storm Watch area late Wednesday.


A few tornadoes are possible Wednesday and Wednesday night over southeastern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the
western Panhandle of Florida.