(CNN) — After hitting the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Zeta heads towards the US Gulf Coast and residents prepare for its impact.
Zeta made landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula north of Tulum, Mexico, as a Category 1 hurricane Monday night, triggering heavy rain and storm surge in a region hit by Delta just three weeks ago, according to the National Center for Hurricanes
It weakened slightly to a tropical storm, but strengthened again early Wednesday, with maximum sustained winds of 135 kilometers per hour, to become a hurricane again over the Gulf of Mexico before reaching the coast of the United States.
On the way to USA
Hurricane warnings extend from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi / Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and the New Orleans metropolitan area.
A tropical storm warning has been issued from the Mississippi-Alabama border to the Okaloosa and Walton, Florida county lines.
Preparations for Zeta’s arrival are underway in New Orleans, where voluntary evacuations have been issued for areas outside of its levee system, including the Irish Bayou, Venetian Isles and Lake Catherine, starting Tuesday night, he said in a the New Orleans city government communicated.
The New Orleans metropolitan area is bracing for tropical storm-force winds, heavy rains and coastal flooding as a result of Hurricane Zeta, the statement said.
Residents are encouraged to collect emergency supplies, including food, water and medicine, for at least three days, and the city of New Orleans planned to provide sandbags to residents on Tuesday, the statement said.
Conditions are expected to worsen along the coast on Wednesday afternoon. Areas along the Gulf Coast near and just east of where the center makes landfall can expect up to eight feet of storm surge.
The hurricane is expected to accelerate significantly when it makes landfall in the afternoon. This will bring the potential for tropical storm force winds inland to the southeast. There is a tropical storm watch for areas as far north as north Georgia, including Atlanta.
One good news for the rapid movement is that flooding will be limited. While flooding is still possible, widespread catastrophic flooding is not expected.
On Monday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued an emergency declaration prior to Zeta’s arrival.
More than 1,150 members of the Louisiana National Guard have been activated and have a variety of offshore vehicles, boats and helicopters ready for search and rescue efforts, the governor said.
“We must roll up our sleeves, as we always do, and prepare for a potential impact in Louisiana,” Edwards said.
Zeta could set records
It has been a very active hurricane season, and it could set records for Louisiana. Zeta is forecast to hit the state in hurricane force on Wednesday, and if it does, it will set the record for the most named storms to hit the state in a season.
“The good and the bad at the same time is that we’ve had a lot of practice this year,” Edwards said.
Zeta would be the fifth named storm, following Cristóbal, Laura, Marco, and Delta. Zeta would also lead Louisiana to tie Florida (2005) for the most landfalls of any state in a season.
“This storm is expected to make landfall somewhere on the Gulf Coast in the middle of the week, which means we have a few days to prepare. As we have seen in this hurricane season, a tropical threat during the current covid-19 emergency is challenging, but we can manage something, ”Edwards said in a tweet.
And the area is still reeling from back-to-back storms.
In late August, Hurricane Laura became the strongest to hit Louisiana since 1856. In that state and in Texas, Laura destroyed houses and structures in its wake, killing at least 25 people.
More than 8,000 evacuees from Hurricane Laura were in shelters six weeks later when Delta struck, Edwards said.
Hurricane Delta left a trail of “hazards like flooded roads, downed power lines and displaced wildlife” across the state, Edwards tweeted at the time.
The storm killed at least four people, generated more than 10 tornado reports from the Gulf Coast to the Carolinas, and covered part of Louisiana in more than 17 inches of rain.
“Even if it wasn’t as powerful as Hurricane Laura, it was much bigger,” Edwards said of Delta. “Obviously, this was a very serious, very large and powerful storm that caused significant damage.”
CNN’s Haley Brink and Taylor Ward contributed to this report.
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