Tracking the Tropics: Tropical Storm Zeta moving over Gulf of Mexico, expected to regain hurricane strength

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Zeta, which reached hurricane strength Monday evening, weakened to a tropical storm early Tuesday morning as it moved over the northern Yucatan Peninsula.

The storm made landfall on the peninsula just north of Tulum as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph late Monday night. As expected, Zeta weakened to a tropical storm after landfall and has continued to weaken as it moves over land. By 11 a.m., maximum sustained winds had decreased to 65 mph.

The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center says Zeta is expected to become a hurricane again later Tuesday when it starts moving over the Gulf of Mexico. The system is forecast to be at or near hurricane strength when it reaches the northern Gulf Coast late Wednesday.

Life-threatening storm surge is expected along parts of the northern Gulf Coast, according to the NHC, with the highest inundation expected to happen between the mouth of the Pearl River and Dauphin Island in Alabama. Hurricane conditions are also expected between Morgan City, Louisiana and the Mississippi/Alabama border.

Once Zeta makes landfall along the coast, it is forecast to move inland and across the southeastern United States through Thursday. The NHC says damaging winds will spread across parts of southeast Mississippi and southern Alabama as Zeta moves inland. Heavy rain is also expected.

“Between (Tuesday night) and Thursday, heavy rainfall is expected from portions of the central U.S. Gulf Coast into the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic states near and in advance of Zeta,” NHC forecasters said. “This rainfall will lead to flash, urban, small stream and minor river flooding.”

Several watches and warnings have already been issued along the Gulf Coast ahead of Zeta.

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:

  • Intracoastal City, Louisiana to Navarre, Florida
  • Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain, Vermilion Bay, Pensacola Bay and Mobile Bay

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

  • Morgan City, Louisiana to the Mississippi/Alabama border
  • Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and Metropolitan New Orleans

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

  • Mississippi/Alabama border to Okaloosa/Walton County Line Florida

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:

  • West of Morgan City to Intracoastal City, Louisiana

Tracking the Tropics is keeping you safe and informed this hurricane season. Our team featuring some of the nation’s top meteorologists will be live at 2 p.m. ET with the latest update from the NHC.


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