Tracking the Tropics: Tropical Storm Zeta forecast to impact Gulf of Mexico

Tracking the Tropics

The latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center for Tropical Storm Zeta continues to show a landfall along the central Gulf coast

10:00PM

Tropical Storm Zeta has formed in the Western Caribbean and will be becoming a hurricane by late Monday or early Tuesday, once it enters the southern Gulf of Mexico. Its latest track has shifted a tad bit west as the storm moves slowly at 2 miles per hour with 60 mile per hour winds.

Potential impacts anywhere from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle are a possibility by late Tuesday or Wednesday. Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watches will likely be issued tomorrow for parts of Louisiana & the northern Gulf Coast. These are issued 48 hours ahead of the onset of tropical storm force winds.

Overall, this system does not look like a huge issue, as it will be moving fast and most likely weakening while moving north.

However, our chance for tropical storm impacts is growing. At the least, expect localized heavy rain plus increased tides along and east of where Zeta’s center comes ashore. Right now, the main threats locally across our New Orleans viewing area are tropical storm or even hurricane conditions plus 2-5 inches in rain. Coastal flooding along and east of where its center comes ashore and surge are concerns, as well.

Conditions appear marginal for modest strengthening into a strong tropical storm or Category one hurricane in the southern Gulf. The key with this is dry air and wind shear. Slightly cooler water temperatures in the northern Gulf look to be inhibitors for intensification as the system moves northward into the northern Gulf.

Right now, most guidance weakens the system to a moderate or strong tropical storm intensity as it nears the northern Gulf Coast. As far as its structure, Zeta looks to be a lopsided system weighted heavily on the eastern side.

An approaching cold front’s timing in conjunction with this system’s strength will dictate its path. If the front moves faster, Zeta will take a more northeast path towards the eastern Gulf Coast in either the Alabama or Florida Panhandle. If the front moves slower, Zeta will take a path towards southeast Louisiana or southern Mississippi.

A stronger system would favor a slightly more eastern path in the end before Zeta makes landfall. Remember, in this situation, 50 miles will make a huge difference for southeast Louisiana. If Zeta goes 50 miles East, our impacts will be fairly minimal in southeast Louisiana.

This is Louisiana’s seventh time to be included in the cone of uncertainty during Hurricane Season 2020. It only takes one storm, so do not let your guard down.

Stay tuned for forecast updates online on WGNO.com and download our app today to receive notifications when updates are available!

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4:00 PM

Tropical Storm Zeta has formed in the Western Caribbean and will be becoming a hurricane by late Monday or early Tuesday, once it enters the southern Gulf of Mexico.

Potential impacts anywhere from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle are a possibility by late Tuesday or Wednesday. Overall, this system does not look like a huge issue, as it will be moving fast and most likely weakening while moving north.

However, our chance for tropical storm impacts is growing. At the least, expect localized heavy rain plus increased tides along and east of where Zeta’s center comes ashore.

Conditions appear marginal for modest strengthening into a strong tropical storm or Category one hurricane in the southern Gulf. The key with this is dry air and wind shear. Slightly cooler water temperatures in the northern Gulf look to be inhibitors for intensification as the system moves northward into the northern Gulf.

Right now, most guidance weakens the system to a moderate or strong tropical storm intensity as it nears the northern Gulf Coast. As far as its structure, Zeta looks to be a lopsided system weighted heavily on the eastern side.

An approaching cold front’s timing in conjunction with this system’s strength will dictate its path. If the front moves faster, Zeta will take a more northeast path towards the eastern Gulf Coast in either the Alabama or Florida Panhandle. If the front moves slower, Zeta will take a path towards southeast Louisiana or southern Mississippi.

A stronger system would favor a slightly more eastern path in the end before Zeta makes landfall. Remember, in this situation, 50 miles will make a huge difference for southeast Louisiana. If Zeta goes 50 miles East, our impacts will be fairly minimal in southeast Louisiana.

This is Louisiana’s seventh time to be included in the cone of uncertainty during Hurricane Season 2020. It only takes one storm, so do not let your guard down.

Stay tuned for forecast updates online on WGNO.com and download our app today to receive notifications when updates are available!

10:00 AM

The latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center for Tropical Storm Zeta continues to show a landfall along the central Gulf coast. Louisiana is still centered within the cone at this time.

The storm is currently not moving much and should remain fairly stationary over the next day or so before drifting northwest over the Yucatan.

Strengthening looks likely in the next couple of days and this is likely to become a hurricane in the southern Gulf. After that point strong wind shear and cooler water should cause weakening as it moves northeast by midweek.

The main issue of with the track of this will be the strong trough coming in from the west. Eventually that will move Zeta northeast but the question is still how early does that happen. Right now it is still too early to say for sure where this is going to go.

Prepare for tropical conditions midweek. Heavy rain, coastal flooding, and strong winds will be possible on the current track, although a shift to the east would mean very little for our area. Main impacts would be on Wednesday as this storm will be moving very quickly at landfall.

We will continue to monitor this very closely and need a couple more days to lock in the exact details of any impacts. As always stay with WGNO on air and online.

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