- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hurricane Zeta made landfall Wednesday evening near Cocodrie, Louisiana, as a Category 2 storm with sustained wind speeds of about 110 mph, delivering a life-threatening storm surge and weather conditions along portions of the Gulf Coast and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands. 

Weather forecasters urged residents to seek refuge inside or evacuate, warning of dangerous winds, heavy rainfall, coastal flooding and possible tornadoes from Zeta, the 27th named storm during an active Atlantic hurricane season.

Hurricane conditions spread Wednesday evening from southeastern Louisiana along the Mississippi coast before migrating across the southeastern and eastern U.S. on Thursday.

“This is a life-threatening situation. Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions. Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials,” the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday evening.

Louisiana residents already are weather beaten from a busy hurricane season, previously enduring two tropical storms and two hurricanes. New Orleans also faced threats from tropical cyclones seven times this year.

A weather station in Golden Meadow, Louisiana, reported a sustained wind of 83 mph with a gust of 105 mph at 4:25 p.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) New Orleans.

New Orleans’ iconic French Quarter saw shop signs swing back and forth and palm trees whipping in 80 mph winds. After making landfall in Louisiana, the hurricane migrated to the Mississippi coast in the evening.

In Mississippi, streetlights swayed in Biloxi and the city of Pass Christian ordered all boats out of the harbor. Dauphin Island, Alabama, shut off water and sewer service in areas that typically are swamped in storms.

“The good news for us — and look, you take good news where you can find it — the storm’s forward speed is 17 mph. That’s projected to increase, and so it’s going to get in and out of the area relatively quickly, and then we’re going to be able to assess the damage more quickly,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in an interview on The Weather Channel.

The National Hurricane Center anticipates that Zeta will move across the southeastern and eastern United States on Thursday, as it headed northeast at a speed of 24 mph.

Many areas expected high storm surges, some as high as 11 feet.

The mouth of the Pearl River at the Mississippi-Alabama border could see 7 to 11 feet while that border to Dauphin Island, Alabama could see 6 to 9 feet. From Port Fourchon, Louisiana, to the mouth of the Mississippi River could see 5 to 8 feet.

Meteorologists predicted that high wind gusts will sweep through the southeast into Thursday morning before traveling into the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia. The southern Appalachian Mountains could see severe wind gusts Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.

Areas from the central Gulf Coast to mid-Mississippi and Ohio Valleys and eastward into the southern to central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic could experience heavy rainfall — anywhere from 2 to 6 inches, leading to the flooding of rivers, small streams and urban areas.

Hurricane Zeta could also whip up a few tornadoes in southeastern parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, southern Alabama and the western panhandle of Florida on Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Nearly 400,000 customers were without electricity in Louisiana and Mississippi, including more than 280,000 in metro New Orleans. More outages were feared overnight as the storm moves northeastward across the Deep South.

Earlier this week, Mr. Edwards issued a state of emergency and asked for federal assistance for Hurricane Zeta. President Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the governor’s request for assistance Tuesday evening.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich of Biloxi, Mississippi, also declared states of emergency.

Zeta landed Monday night on the eastern Yucatán Peninsula near Tulum, Mexico, as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph before weakening to a tropical storm and continuing north.

It is the earliest 27th Atlantic named storm, breaking the previous record for the storm that formed Nov. 29, 2005. It is the 11th hurricane of the season. Hurricane season lasts through Nov. 30.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire-service reports.

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