After quickly strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Zeta made landfall in Louisiana as a powerful Category 2 hurricane. Upon making landfall, the storm was responsible for at least three deaths. Millions of people are without power in the Southeast as the storm rushes to the northeast of Louisiana.
The storm formed quickly over the Caribbean before clipping the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. This land interaction brought it down to a Category 1 storm, before it strengthened again over the Gulf to become a Category 2 storm. After making landfall in the US, it once again weakened to a tropical storm.
The hurricane reached Louisiana early in the morning on Thursday, around 3 AM. The storm proceeded to weaken significantly after landfall, falling to a tropical storm as it rushed to the northeast. The storm’s high windspeeds quickly knocked out power to millions of people along the Southeast and both the Gulf and East Coasts.
By 5 AM, the storm was a tropical storm hovering over the border between Alabama and Georgia. As it pressed north, the storm rushed over Eastern Tennessee, Upstate South Carolina, Western North Carolina, and into Virginia.
Despite moving somewhat slowly over the ocean, the storm picked up considerable speed as it moved to make landfall. It was traveling around 39 miles per hour by Thursday morning, allowing it to cover the US at a considerable clip.
That fast speed means the storm won’t have as much time to shed its intensity as some storms. The less time the storm spends with land interaction as a factor, the longer it can stay a powerful storm. This means it’s likely to impact states further from its initial landfall at tropical storm intensity, a rarity for a late-season storm like Zeta.
Late Season Storms Make Headlines
Zeta is the first named storm to achieve the name “Zeta,” after an historic number of named storms in 2020 burned through the normal alphabetical names generated for tropical storms. Zeta is the sixth storm to be given a Greek letter designation this season.
Louisiana has already been battered by numerous named storms this year alone. Laura and Delta both exacted a toll on the state, and led to thousands of people needing to evacuate to avoid life-threatening storm surge conditions. So far, the 2020 Hurricane season is on track to be one of the most destructive and active seasons in recorded history for the Atlantic.