ORLANDO, Fla. - Warnings have been issued for parts of Florida as Tropical Storm Zeta prepares to restrengthen into a hurricane and pound the Gulf Coast.
Western Panhandle residents deluged by Hurricane Sally last month are being advised to expect heavy rain and wind up to 70 mph when Tropical Storm Zeta reaches the Gulf Coast on Wednesday. It currently has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.
The state Division of Emergency Management tweeted an advisory for people from Panama City to Pensacola to monitor weather alerts and local news.
“Tropical storm warnings from #Zeta are in effect for Florida's Western Panhandle,” the division tweeted midday Tuesday. “This means winds of 40-70 mph are expected Wednesday night. Now is the time to prepare.”
The western Panhandle was under a tropical storm warning, with the center of Zeta located Tuesday just north of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, moving northwest at 14 mph. The storm is expected to make landfall Wednesday night along the Gulf Coast but is not expected to make a direct hit in Florida.
ACTIVE WATCHES AND WARNINGS:
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:
- Intracoastal City Louisiana to Navarre Florida
- Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain, Vermilion Bay, Pensacola Bay, and Mobile Bay
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:
- Morgan City Louisiana to the Mississippi/Alabama border
- Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Metropolitan New Orleans
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:
- Punta Allen to Progreso Mexico
- Mississippi/Alabama border to Okaloosa/Walton County Line Florida
A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for:
- West of Morgan City to Intracoastal City Louisiana
National Weather Service meteorologist Kelly Godsey said Zeta is expected to bring an increased risk of storm surge, wind and rainfall from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
“We are talking about, in portions of the western Panhandle, seeing winds of 60 to 70 mph,” said Godsey, who is stationed at Florida State University in Tallahassee. “That is going to bring down a lot of trees, cause some power outages and things of that nature.”
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The system continues to produce strong winds and heavy rainfall across the northern portions of the Yucatan Peninsula. Storm surge and hurricane warnings have been issued for the northern Gulf Coast.
"This is a life-threatening situation," the NHC said. "Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions. Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials."
Zeta is the earliest ever 27th named storm of the Atlantic season. Zeta is the 6th named storm of the Greek alphabet used in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. With that, the season has now tied with the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season for the most named storms in one season. One more named storm and this year will become the new record holder.
Forecasters have predicted that this season will have more activity than normal. For example, NOAA predicted an above-average season, with 13 to 19 named storms. Six to 10 of those would become hurricanes and three to six of those are forecasted to become major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher).
In comparison, the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane season had 18 named storms, matching 1969 for the fourth most-lively season in the past 150 years.
Hurricane season runs through November 30th.
Watch FOX 35 News for the latest updates throughout hurricane season.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.