KEY POINTS

  • Hurricane Zeta is expected to make landfall in Louisiana on Wednesday
  • Forecasters predict it will bring up to 6 inches of rain in the Gulf Coast 
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency

Hurricane Zeta is expected to set its sights on the U.S. and slam Louisiana with torrential rain as it makes landfall in the state Wednesday night. 

The tropical storm officially became a hurricane on Monday before heading toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The storm is expected to follow Hurricane Delta's track, striking Cozumel, Mexico, before moving toward the Gulf Coast. 

A computer model from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) predicts a continued intensification before Zeta slams the Yucatan Peninsula because the system is located over the hemisphere's warmest area of water and upper-level winds are getting more conducive for tropical development, CBS News reported.  

While forecasters predict that Zeta will not be nearly as strong as Hurricane Delta, the system is still expected to dump up to a foot of rain in parts of the Yucatan Peninsula and up to six inches of rain in the Northern Gulf Coast. 

Forecasters also predict the hurricane's center could make landfall in southeast Louisiana and the Alabama Coast. If Hurricane Zeta makes landfall in Louisiana, it would be the fifth storm to do so this year.

With the system approaching, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency. More than 1,150 of the state's national guardsmen have been activated. They are equipped with high-water vehicles, boats and helicopters to aid in search and rescue efforts, CNN reported.  

"This storm is expected to make landfall somewhere on the Gulf Coast by midweek, meaning we have a few days to prepare. As we've seen this hurricane season, a tropical threat during the ongoing COVID-19 emergency is challenging, but something we can handle," Edwards tweeted.

 

The state is also preparing for potential impact. At the same time, it continues its recovery from flooding and wind damage caused by Hurricane Laura in August and Hurricane Delta in early October. 

"We must roll up our sleeves, like we always do, and prepare for a potential impact to Louisiana," Edwards said. 

The National Hurricane Center has placed Morgan City, Louisiana, the Mississippi/Alabama border, and metropolitan New Orleans under a hurricane watch. 

Places to the east and west of the hurricane watch, such as the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida and Intracoastal City, Louisiana, were also placed under a tropical storm watch. 

Hurricane Zeta is expected to make landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday with a speed of 70 to 75 mph. It is expected to slam into New Orleans on Wednesday evening at 75 mph, and hit Atlanta on Thursday morning at 40 mph, The Weather Channel reported. 

Louisiana bracing from yet another hurricane as residents pick up the pieces from Hurricanes Delta and Laura. Hurricane Delta hit an area that was still struggling to recover from Hurricane Laura six weeks earlier. Photo: AFP / CHANDAN KHANNA