Stronger Today than Forecast
Capitalizing on a low wind shear environment overnight and warmer than average SSTs in the southern Gulf of Mexico, Zeta exceeded the 12-24 hour intensification forecast by all weather models issued yesterday. Evidence of this strengthening is the appearance of an eye in early morning satellite imagery.
Zeta is expected to be a higher end category-2 hurricane by landfall late this afternoon. While cooler waters and higher wind shear are anticipated today, the continued strengthening of the system this morning coupled with a rapid forward speed of near 25 mph at landfall are expected to be the dominant factors in landfall intensity.
Zeta will render wind impacts of downed trees and powerlines with resulting power outages over a large area, along with some property damage. The rapid forward speed of Zeta will bring impacts further inland than normally associated with a category-2 landfall. Impacts will also include seawater inundation due to storm surge of up to 6-9 feet for coastal areas and adjacent waterways, with wave battering along the immediate coast. Inland flooding due to heavy rainfall is also probable for certain areas, although rapid forward motion looks to limit highest totals to under 10 inches. Zeta will depart the U.S. into the western Atlantic on Friday. At this time, damaging coastal winds are not anticipated for the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast U.S. coastline, nor for Atlantic Canada
As a further note, Zeta was a record breaking third landfalling hurricane in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico for the month of October. Additionally, Zeta is the strongest hurricane on record, this far west in the Gulf of Mexico, this late in the season.
Updates and Useful Links
A CAT-i report assessing the final impacts of Zeta will be issued on Friday, October 30.