COLUMBIA, S.C. — We're tracking a late season tropical system in the Caribbean which is expected to make landfall on the Gulf coast this week. The United States has already seen a record breaking 10 tropical systems make landfall this year.
As of 8 am on Monday, Tropical Storm Zeta is 175 miles southeast of Cozumel with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. The storm is moving -northwest at 9 mph.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Cozumel and from Tulum to Dzilam Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula. Hurricane conditions with winds sustained as high as 74 mph are expected on Monday evening in this area. Storm surge is expected to reach between 1-3 feet during the height of the storm overnight on Monday.
Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for western Cuba and from south of Tulum to Punta Allen, Mexico and from west of Dzilam to Progreso, Mexico.
The National Hurricane Center expects Zeta to maintain hurricane strength as it approaches the northern Gulf of Mexico. Landfall is expected late on Wednesday in Louisiana or Alabama as a strong tropical storm, or category 1 hurricane. Cooler water in the northern Gulf could weaken Zeta before landfall, but heavy rain and wind is expected regardless as Zeta merges with a storm system moving across the country.
Impacts for South Carolina
Heavy rain is expected for upstate South Carolina on Thursday. Rain is expected to be less widespread with Zeta's current forecast path, but strong storms are possible and could produce localized flooding and damaging wind. 2-4 inches of rain are expected in parts of the state. The storm will bring breezy weather on Thursday into Friday in combination with a strong cold front that will deliver dry and cool weather for Halloween weekend.
A busy season for the Gulf Coast
Louisiana has seen 4 landfalling tropical systems so far this season, most notably Category 4 Hurricane Laura on August 27th. Laura devastated communities in western Louisiana, which is not currently in the path of Zeta. The projected path for Zeta indicates landfall is more likely in eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, or the border of Florida and Alabama. The coastline in the latest projected path were already hit by 2 tropical storms and category 2 Hurricane Sally this season.