At around 1 AM CDT this morning, Tropical Storm Zeta officially formed in the Northern Caribbean, where it continues to churn as of late this afternoon. This is the 27th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season, and is expected to become yet another Gulf of Mexico storm over the next 36 hours.
Here is the latest forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. Zeta is likely to strengthen into a category 1 hurricane as it tracks NW over the Northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday. As it continues its track North, Zeta will encounter ocean waters that are comparatively cooler compared to earlier in the season…this means Zeta is not likely to remain at hurricane strength before closing into the Gulf states.
That being said, there is still a considerable degree of uncertainty with respect to where exactly Zeta will go. The current track as it stands right now appears very similar to other storms we’ve seen this year–namely Hurricane Laura & Hurricane Delta, as both storms caused considerable damage in much of Southern Louisiana.
However, because today’s Sunday & landfall is expected on Wednesday, where exactly Zeta is expected to go is still up in the air. The current cone of uncertainty covers much of SE Louisiana, the MS Gulf Coast, the AL Gulf Coast, & the extreme Western parts of the FL panhandle.
On a positive note, though, because we’re now in late-October, ocean temperatures just offshore from the Gulf coast have gradually cooled down over the past few weeks, as we now approach the winter months. This is good news! Cooler ocean temperatures mean Zeta is not likely to remain much more than a tropical storm.
As Zeta continues its track Northeastward after landfall, it will pass through our viewing area in Central Alabama. As of right now, we’re expecting roughly 2 to 4” of rain from Wednesday morning to Thursday night across the region, with the highest totals expected farther South. Our risk for severe weather is still to be determined, but as with any landfalling tropical storm, it’s something we’ll keep an eye on as it gets closer.
Once Zeta clears the region by Thursday night, a strong cold front with much cooler, drier air will rush into Alabama behind it. Expect fall-like temperatures & sunshine to make a comeback by Friday/Saturday.
In the meantime, our weather tonight & tomorrow across Central Alabama stays calm & quiet. Expect to see a partly cloudy sky tomorrow with afternoon highs in the mid to upper 70s, followed by a warmer day Tuesday with more sunshine & 80s.
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!