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Tropical Storm Zeta remains on track to impact the Gulf Coast by mid-week

Posted at 4:13 PM, Oct 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-25 19:20:27-04

Here is the latest track and intensity forecast for Tropical Storm Zeta.

The storm is still expected to reach hurricane strength by Monday.

It is forecasted to then accelerate toward the north central Gulf Coast and make landfall sometime on Wednesday afternoon as a tropical storm.

As of now, the forecast track has Zeta making landfall in SE LA, east of the Acadiana region.

However, we will continue to watch the progression of the system closely in the coming days as subtle shifts in the track in either direction are likely.

Cooler water temperatures along the northern Gulf coupled with increasing westerly wind shear by mid-week due to an approaching upper-level trough will hold the intensity of the storm in check as it nears the coastline... meaning anything worse than a strong tropical storm/weak Category 1 hurricane at landfall remains unlikely.

The increasing wind shear by mid-week will cause the storm to be more lopsided in nature with the bulk of the deep convection displaced near and well east of the center of circulation.

So, as long as we remain on the western side of the track, we will be spared from the worst of the impacts from Zeta.

We will still continue to watch closely and be prepared in the event we see changes in the forecast.

Here is the latest from the NHC:

Since the storm will be moving over the high oceanic heat content of the northwestern Caribbean Sea and in a moist environment with low vertical shear through Monday, strengthening is forecast and Zeta will likely become a hurricane before it nears the Yucatan Peninsula in a day or so. After Zeta moves into the Gulf of Mexico, southwesterly shear is likely to increase and oceanic heat content below the cyclone will diminish, especially when the system approaches the northern Gulf coast on Wednesday. Therefore, no strengthening is forecast in 2-3 days and Zeta could be weakening by the time it reaches the northern Gulf coast. However, the intensity forecast is still subject to significant uncertainty.

The center has been meandering this afternoon, and apparently has reformed nearer to the deep convection over the southeastern quadrant. Since this is not considered representative of larger-scale motion, the system is still considered to be quasi-stationary at this time. However, the track guidance is in agreement that Zeta will move northwestward over the next 1-2 days, passing near or over the Yucatan Peninsula. Thereafter, the cyclone is likely to turn north-northwestward to northward while it moves on the western side of a mid-tropospheric anticyclone near Florida. A turn toward the north-northeast is expected when Zeta nears the northern Gulf coast, due to an approaching shortwave trough. The track guidance has more than the usual amount of spread at the 72-hour time frame, with the ECMWF and the GFS predictions being about 300 miles apart near the northern Gulf coast. The official forecast track lies between these 2 solutions, and is similar to the previous NHC track. However, given the inherent uncertainties, one should not focus on the exact forecast track. Based on the new intensity forecast, the government of Mexico has issued a Hurricane Warning for a portion of the Yucatan peninsula.

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