Hurricane Zeta will be a headache for much of the southeastern United States in the coming days.
Hurricane Zeta is expected to make landfall later this evening along the southeast Louisiana coast, first impacting Houma and New Orleans before moving farther inland.
It’s been a long, agonizing hurricane season and a horrible year for Louisiana. When Zeta makes landfall tonight, it will join the infamous list of storms to impact Louisiana this year. That list includes Cristobal (we saw some its remnants in SE Wisconsin), Marco, Laura, and Delta.
Now, if you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know that most of the city sits at or below sea level. Here’s a picture that I took coming into the city off of I-10 a few years ago.
When heavy rains or storms impact the area it’s often a challenge. New Orleans relies on pumps to drain the rain/water out of the city to prevent flooding but with Hurricane Zeta the challenge will not only be the heavy rain but also the threat of power outages from the strong winds. The pump stations have reserve power so they should be able to stay up and running as Zeta moves through the city.
Here’s a tweet from the Sewage & Water Board of New Orleans:
#Zeta update: Status of our pumps remains the same, all 99 pumps are available. Power: T1, T3, T6, all frequency changers and EMDs.— SWB New Orleans (@SWBNewOrleans) October 28, 2020
We are relying on frequency changers which means relying on Entergy & overhead power lines, which are now even more vulnerable due to higher winds.
Starting this evening, the main threats for Louisiana and Mississippi will be dangerous storm surge, heavy rain, and strong damaging winds. Places like New Orleans and Gulfport, MS could see winds up to 110 mph.
Below is a threat map issued by the National Weather Service out of New Orleans/Baton Rouge. Notice how the damaging wind threat of winds up to 73 mph extends well into west Alabama.
Most of central and south Alabama are expecting the potential for widespread power outages as the winds from Zeta will likely down trees and powers.
Along with the threat of power outages, there will be the potential for tornadoes from the Florida panhandle to south-central Alabama. The Storm Prediction Center has placed those areas under a slight risk due to the possibility of some brief tornadoes.
The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center has Zeta as a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 100 mph, moving north-northeast at 20 mph. Be sure to check on your friends and family that will be impacted by this storm.