Hurricane Zeta is “battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi with life-threatening storm surge, high winds, and heavy rain,” per the National Hurricane Center.
What’s happening: The hurricane was producing maximum sustained winds of nearly 110 mph and stronger gusts after making landfall on the southeastern coast of Louisiana as a Category 2 storm earlier Wednesday. By nightfall, Zeta had sustained winds of 80 mph with a wind gust of 104 mph.
- The core of Zeta — including its destructive eyewall — moved ashore near Cocodrie, roughly 75 miles from New Orleans. Water has inundated Highway 56 in Cocodrie.
- Officials in New Orleans, where flood risks are high, urged residents to take precautions and shelter in place ahead of landfall.
- The NWA office in New Orleans warned that mobile homes would be “severely damaged” and some roads “impassible due to debris.”
Of note: Zeta is the fifth named storm to make landfall in Louisiana this year — the most storms in a single year since records began in 1851, the Times-Picayune notes.
What to expect: The risk for multiple tornadoes to form and touch down grew on Wednesday afternoon, as a watch was issued in parts of Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama through at least midnight.
- Isolated tornado activity is also possible for Georgia and Carolina Piedmont Thursday. The NWS Storm Prediction Center included those areas in a Level 1 (of 5) “marginal risk” for severe weather.
- Widespread power outages are also expected, the National Weather Service said.
The big picture: Zeta is the 27th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season — hitting a record set in 2005.
- Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) requested a pre-landfall Emergency Declaration in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday.
- Before reaching the Gulf Coast, the storm made landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 1 hurricane late Monday and then weakened to a tropical storm. By early Wednesday, it had strengthened into a hurricane again.
Editor’s note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.