Friday 4 December, 2020

TS Zeta gaining strength, could become hurricane when it nears Yucatan

The government of Mexico has issued a Hurricane Warning for the Yucatan Peninsula from Tulum to Rio Lagartos, including Cozumel. 

Hurricane conditions are expected within the Hurricane Warning area by late Monday. 

A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 1-3 feet above normal tide levels along the immediate coast in the Hurricane Warning area near and to the north of where the centre makes landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Pinar del Rio Cuba.

Tropical storm conditions could occur in the warning area in Western Cuba on Monday. 

For storm information specific to your area, please monitor products issued by your national meteorological service.

At 5pm EDT, the centre of Tropical Storm Zeta was located over the northwestern Caribbean Sea about 305 miles (490 km) south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba and about 300 miles (480 km) southeast of Cozumel, Mexico. Zeta has been meandering or nearly stationary, but a generally northwestward motion is expected over the next couple of days.  

On the forecast track, the centre of Zeta will pass south of western Cuba early Monday and move near or over the northern Yucatan Peninsula or the Yucatan Channel late Monday, move into the southern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, and reach the central Gulf of Mexico by late Tuesday.

Reports from an NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that the maximum sustained winds have increased near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts. 

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles (185 km) from the centre. Strengthening is forecast to take place during the next 48 
hours, and Zeta is expected to become a hurricane before it moves near or over the Yucatan Peninsula late Monday.

Rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches, with local amounts of 12 inches, are possible through Wednesday along and east-northeast of Zeta’s track from Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, central to western Cuba, and the northeast Yucatan peninsula of Mexico.  

Additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches, with local amounts of 5 inches, are possible across South Florida and the Keys during the next 2 days, with isolated storm totals of 8 inches.

Zeta is forecast to be at or just below hurricane strength when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and there is an increasing risk of storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. Residents in these areas should monitor the progress of Zeta and updates to the forecast.

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