Miami, Oct 28 (efe-epa).- Hurricane Zeta made landfall Wednesday in southeastern Louisiana as a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 175km/h (110mph), the US National Hurricane Center said.
A Hurricane Hunter aircraft spotted Zeta over land near the town of Cocodrie shortly before 4.00 pm (2100 GMT), the Miami-based NHC said.
The storm was located 100km (65mi) south-southwest of New Orleans, moving toward the north-northeast at 39km/h (24mph), and is forecast to make a second landfall later Wednesday on the coast of Mississippi.
Zeta’s forward motion is expected to accelerate as it cuts a swath across the southeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States before moving out to sea on Friday.
Hurricane-force winds extend up to 55km (35mi) from the center of Zeta, while tropical-storm-force winds are being felt as much as 240km (150mi) from the center.
“It’s going to be a rough evening for Louisiana, particularly in the southeastern portion. I am confident we are well prepared for this storm,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said as the Bayou State braced for the arrival of a fifth tropical cyclone in two months.
As of 5.00 pm (2200 GMT), Zeta’s eye-wall was approaching New Orleans, the NHC said, citing an unofficial reading of sustained winds of 151km/h (94mph) in Golden Meadow, a town about 56km (35mi) south of New Orleans.
The NHC also warned of “life-threatening” storm surge. The forecast called for a surge as high as 3.35m (11ft) above normal tides across the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi, with smaller surges expected in Alabama and Florida.
Zeta could spawn tornadoes throughout the affected area, according to the NHC.
It has been less than three weeks since Hurricane Delta struck Louisiana, following Tropical Storm Marco, Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Cristobal.
Zeta is the 27th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which continues through Nov. 30, and the 11th tropical system to affect the US this year, breaking a record set in 1916, according to researchers at Colorado State University.
Laura was blamed for 27 deaths in Louisiana, though most of the fatalities took place in the storm’s wake. EFE