The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Zeta will likely come ashore later Wednesday in southeastern Louisiana as a strong category one storm.
In its latest report, the hurricane center said Zeta is churning in the Gulf of Mexico about 380 kilometers southwest of New Orleans, with maximum sustained winds of about 150 kph. Forecasters say some strengthening is possible before the storm hits the Gulf Coast.
Forecasters report conditions are rapidly deteriorating in an area between the coast of western Louisiana and the Florida panhandle, with life-threatening storm surges, damaging winds and rain.
Hurricane warnings are in effect for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The National Weather Service warns there is also the threat of tornadoes along the path of the storm once it comes ashore.
The storm is expected to weaken as it moves quickly across the eastern United States late Wednesday and Thursday, bringing heavy rain to much of the mid-Atlantic region before its remnants move back out into the Atlantic Ocean late Thursday.
Zeta is the 27th named storm of the 2020 season, tying a record set in the 2005 season.
It is the 11th named storm to hit the southern United States this year, and the fourth hurricane. If Zeta comes ashore mostly in Louisiana, it will be the third hurricane to hit the state in the past two months, with Laura and Delta striking within 15 miles of one another in the western part of the state.