Southeast Louisiana Is Under Hurricane Watch As Zeta Nears Mexico
Zeta has reached hurricane strength and is nearing the Yucatan Peninsula on Monday evening — and Southeast Louisiana is under a hurricane watch.
As of 7 p.m., Hurricane Zeta was still moving at about 12 mph. Its maximum sustained wind speed was measured at 80 mph.
The storm is expected to make lanfall in Mexico sometime tonight. It's expected to weaken over land, but strengthen into a hurricane again as it makes its way into the northern Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday.
Tropical storm Zeta is expected to become a hurricane Monday afternoon. As of 3 p.m., the storm is moving towards Cozumel, Mexico, at 10 mph.
The National Hurricane Center forecasts Zeta to strengthen before moving over the Yucatan Peninsula later Monday, and gain speed as it moves towards the southern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.
Zeta is expected to turn north on Wednesday and move towards the Gulf coast. There’s an increasing risk of storm surge, heavy rain and strong winds stretching from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle.
The city of New Orleans is calling for a voluntary evacuation of areas outside the levee system, including Irish Bayou, Venetian Isles, and Lake Catherine beginning at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
The storm has sustained winds of 70 mph. Hurricane warnings have been issued for much of southern Mexico.
The storm could bring up to a foot of rain as it makes landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula, the Cayman Islands and central to western Cuba. Flash flooding is possible, especially in urban areas.
Forecasters warn of dangerous storm surge of 1 to 3 feet above normal tide levels as the hurricane moves over Mexico.
Between Tuesday night and Thursday, Zeta may bring between 2 and 4 inches of rain to portions of the central U.S. Gulf Coast.
Update, 2:30 p.m.: In New Orleans, early voting will continue as scheduled. The final day is Tuesday, and polls are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Neutral ground parking will be allowed starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The city is also distributing sand bags on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. (or as long as supplies last) at Arthur Monday Center, the Dryades YMCA, Saint Maria Goretti Church, and the NOFD Engine 8.
City Hall, NORD, New Orleans Public Libraries and NOLA Public Schools are monitoring the storm and will announce any impacts to services as warranted.
Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.