NBC News- Tropical Storm Zeta emerged over the Gulf of Mexico as a slightly weaker system early Tuesday and is taking aim at the Louisiana coast, where it could be the third named storm to strike the low-lying region since August.
Zeta lashed Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula overnight with 80 mph winds and heavy rains. Government forecasters said that the tropical storm is expected to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall some time Wednesday afternoon. Rain is expected to begin on the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday afternoon with landfall expected later in the day.
As of 10 a.m. CDT Tuesday, Zeta was 520 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving NW at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Zeta is the 27th named storm of the 2020 Hurricane season and, when it strikes the U.S. mainland Wednesday, it is expected to break a record by becoming the 11th named storm to do so in one year, according to forecasters.
Laura battered the region in August and Delta in October.
"It is important that everyone get their game plan together," tweeted Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday morning. "Make sure that you are prepared, that you monitor your local news and that you continue to heed the warnings of local officials."
Hurricane warnings are in effect for Morgan City, Louisiana to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas and metro New Orleans.
A tropical storm warning is in effect from the Mississippi-Alabama border to the Okaloosa-Walton County line in Florida, and a tropical storm watch is in effect in Louisiana west of Morgan City to Intracoastal City. Residents of a stretch of coast from Louisiana to Florida are under a storm surge warning.