Zeta is the latest storm to put Louisiana on alert

    Tropical Storm Zeta has emerged as yet the latest threat to Louisiana, and state and local officials are warning storm-fatigued residents to be vigilant yet again. Hurricane Laura and Hurricane Laura struck Southwest Louisiana six weeks apart. According to current forecasts, Zeta is expected to hit the Gulf Coast somewhere between Southeast Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle Wednesday as a strong tropical storm or a minimal strength hurricane. 

    “It is unfortunate we face another tropical threat this late in a very active season,” Gov. Jonn Bel Edwards said in written statement Sunday morning. “We must roll up our sleeves, like we always do, and prepare for a potential impact to Louisiana.”

    According to the National Weather Service, as of 4 a.m. Monday morning, Zeta was 210 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, and moving northwest at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.  It is expected to strengthen into a hurricane later this morning, pick up speed and turn north Tuesday night. 

    The storm is expected to be “at or near hurricane strength when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and there is an increasing risk of storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.” The storm is forecast to be fast moving, though, which typically means less rain and less surge.

    In his statement Sunday, Gov. Edwards said, “As we’ve seen this hurricane season, a tropical threat during the ongoing COVID-19 emergency is challenging, but something we can handle….If Tropical Storm Zeta does become a serious threat, we stand ready to ramp up our actions as a state to meet the needs of our people and communities.”

    The governor has scheduled a press  conference for 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.

    This is only the second time in history that there has been a storm named Zeta.  In fact, it’s only the second time in history that there have been more than 21 named Atlantic Storms and the list of Latin alphabet names has been exhausted. The only precedent for Greek alphabet storms is 2005.   Zeta, the sixth letter of that alphabet, was the last storm of 2005 and it formed December 30, a month after the season’s official end.  The current Zeta formed Sunday, 66 days earlier.