SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Tropical Storm Zeta formed early Sunday morning in the western Caribbean Sea, becoming our 27th named storm this season. Zeta has continued to strengthen through the overnight hours.
As of 11 AM Monday, Zeta continues to have sustained winds of 70 mph. Category 1 hurricane strength begins at 74 mph. The storm is beginning to pick up speed and is now moving NW at 10 mph and is located 140 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.
Zeta’s moving speed will continue increase through today before entering the Gulf of Mexico tomorrow. Zeta will also strengthen today and could become our 11th hurricane of the season as early as this afternoon. High pressure building over the eastern United States will steer Zeta to the west.
Currently the forecast from the National Hurricane Center calls for this storm to be a category 1 hurricane or a high end tropical storm as it makes landfall somewhere between Louisiana and the Alabama coast on late Wednesday.
It will become the 8th storm this season to make landfall along the Gulf Coast. If it makes landfall in Louisiana, it will be the 5th storm to do so. If it makes landfall as a hurricane in Louisiana, it will be the 3rd hurricane this season.
There is no other direct impact from Zeta expected in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry at this time.
Steering high pressure will keep Zeta to our west, but it will allow for tropical moisture to move midweek. This will allow for a stray shower Tuesday and scattered showers Wednesday and Thursday. Late this week, a cold front will move though and usher in cool and dry air bringing fall conditions back.
Hurricane season officially ends November 30th, but tropical cyclones can and have formed in December and even January. There is only one other Zeta on record. That storm formed in December of 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina. 2020 now ties that season with the most number of named storms at 27.
Should just one more tropical storm develop this year, we will have seen an unprecedented number of names used in a single season.