Zeta strengthens into a hurricane as it barrels toward the US with life-threatening storm surge #Breaking112
Heavy wind, rain and surge that could reach 5 to 8 feet above normal tide are forecast to hit the US coastline by midday Wednesday, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.
But the storm is expected to accelerate before making landfall in the afternoon, and the quick pace will likely protect the area from widespread catastrophic flooding.
It has been a particularly active hurricane season. If Zeta strikes Louisiana, it would be the fifth named storm to do so this season — setting a record for the state. And local leaders along the Gulf Coast are preparing for the hurricane to bring further damage.
“Again we stand ready and prepared and wanting to, again, encourage our people to not have fatigue as relates to being prepared,” New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said.
New Orleans avoided the impact of the last six named storms this year. But, Director of New Orleans Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness Collin Arnold, warns: “I don’t think we’re going to be as lucky with this one.”
Preparing for disaster
State officials are preparing for the damage before Hurricane Zeta reaches their coasts.
Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi/Alabama border as well as Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Metropolitan New Orleans are under hurricane warnings. And tropical storm warnings are in effect from the Mississippi/Alabama border to Okaloosa/Walton County Line, Florida.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a state of emergency Tuesday, saying that the storm isn’t expected to be as bad for the state as ones earlier in the year, but that residents still need to be prepared for outages and damage.
“I encourage everyone to remain weather aware and tuned in to their trusted news source as this storm could shift direction or change intensity,” Ivey said.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Tuesday requesting a pre-landfall disaster declaration.
“No one should be complacent because it’s late October, and it certainly feels like hurricane season should be behind us,” Edwards said.
The wreckage in Mexico
Before turning its path toward the US coast, Zeta struck the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico on Monday night as a Category 1 hurricane.
Teams waded through toppled trees Tuesday after the storm made landfall north of Tulum shortly after midnight.
The region is still recovering from Hurricane Delta, which hit just three weeks earlier roughly 60 miles away. And days before Delta, the region was pummeled by Tropical Storm Gamma — less than 15 miles from where Zeta made landfall.
CNN’s Pedram Javaheri and Carma Hassan contributed to this report.