Tracking the Tropics: Zeta reorganizing in the Gulf; 40-50 mph winds Thurs morning

Tracking the Tropics

As of 10 P.M. CDT Tuesday–Zeta continues its track Northward through the Central Gulf of Mexico as a powerful, late-season tropical storm with 70 mph winds. After crossing over the Northern Yucatan peninsula yesterday, it’s now regaining strength in the Gulf & reorganizing, with convection now wrapping around the storm’s center this evening.

Here is the latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center–no major changes as far as location with since yesterday’s track, with landfall still expected tomorrow night near the mouth of the Mississippi River in extreme SE Louisiana. Zeta will likely be a category 1 hurricane at landfall with maximum winds of 80 mph.

A Hurricane Warning is in effect until further notice for a large chunk of SE Louisiana, stretching down I-10 & I-12 to include New Orleans, Hammond, & Slidell. This means hurricane conditions (torrential rain, 74+ mph winds, storm surge) are likely within the next 48 hours. Also included in the Warning is the MS Gulf Coast, including places such as Pass Christian, Gulfport, & Pascagoula.

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for all of the shaded counties above until further notice. This means that tropical storm conditions (heavy rain, 39+ mph winds) are possible within the next 48 hours. This watch extend farther South towards Montgomery & Selma.

Towards the coast, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect from the MS/AL state line to Destin, FL. This means tropical storm conditions are likely within the next 48 hours. This includes popular towns such as Dauphin Island, Mobile, Orange Beach, & Pensacola.

Here’s a loop of what wind speeds will look like across Central Alabama early Thursday morning, when Zeta will pass through as a tropical storm, from roughly 12 AM Thursday to 7 AM. We could be looking at potentially 40 to 50 mph winds across our Southern Counties–near places like Clanton & Rockford, where the Tropical Storm Watch is currently in effect. As you travel North, wind speeds gradually taper off, with Birmingham for example looking at 20 to 30 mph winds. Scattered downed trees and power lines are possible in the pre-dawn hours Thursday.

Here’s what Zeta will look like on radar as it passes through. Torrential rainfall Wednesday night & Thursday morning is expected as Zeta quickly passes through. Again, the main timeframe for Central Alabama will be from 12 AM to 7 AM Thursday. After roughly 9 AM, Zeta will have for the most part exited the region to the Northeast, and the sunshine will have come back out by lunchtime.

Here’s what the latest rainfall totals over the next 48 hours look like across the South & here in Central Alabama. It looks like the highest totals we’ll see will be in two main regions: the MS Delta region in Eastern Arkansas, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Places within these regions could pick up as much as 4 to 6″ of rain. Closer to home, Central Alabama is now looking at 1 to 3″ of rain, with some locally higher amounts. Zeta is a fast-paced storm, which on the plus side means a lower overall risk for flooding.

The main risk for spin-up tornadoes Wednesday night/Thursday morning will be confined to areas along the coast & the Southern half of Alabama. Fortunately for us, that puts out of that main risk area in Central Alabama. Our main concern will be damaging tropical storm winds as well as heavy rainfall.

That’s all for now!  Be sure to download the free CBS 42 Storm Team Weather App for up-to-the-minute weather alerts in YOUR area.  Also, give me a follow on Twitter @GriffinHardyWX for more weather updates from across Alabama & the Southeast.  Have a good night!

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