Tropical Storm Zeta gains strength en route to Yucatan

Miami, Oct 25 (efe-epa).-Tropical Storm Zeta, which formed on the weekend in the Caribbean and is heading toward the Yucatan Peninsula with sustained winds of 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour, continued to strengthen on Sunday and it is possible it will become a hurricane on Monday as it approaches the Mexican coast.

At 5 am, the center of Zeta was located 490 km (about 305 mi.) south-southeast of the westernmost tip of Cuba and 480 km southeast of the island of Cozumel.

The storm was “almost stationary” at sea, according to the most recent bulletin issued by the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

The Mexican government issued a hurricane warning for the Yucatan Peninsula from Tulum to Rio Lagartos, including Cozumel, according to the NHC.

A tropical storm warning is also in effect for the far western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio.

According to its anticipated track, Zeta’s center should pass south of the western tip of Cuba early Monday morning and will move northwards toward the Yucatan Peninsula late that same day.

On Tuesday, the storm should move across the waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico into the central gulf, the NHC said.

Zeta is the 28th storm to form this year in the Atlantic Ocean and, if it becomes a hurricane, it will be the 11th this season.

The current projected trajectory of the storm could include the southern US starting early Wednesday morning, quite a similar track to the one other storm systems followed earlier in October.

Tropical Storm Gamma strengthened on Oct. 4 after leaving the Yucatan Peninsula and moving out over the Gulf of Mexico, and the Category 2 Hurricane Delta made landfall a few days later near Puerto Morelos, Mexico, after which is continued toward the southern US coast, where it hit Louisiana.

Zeta will dump a huge amount of rain in central and western Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, the northeastern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula and in the Florida Keys and southern US, the NHC said.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Epsilon, which continues to move over the colder waters of the North Atlantic, on Sunday afternoon was downgraded to a post-tropical storm.

This system has not made landfall, although last Wednesday it crossed the threshold to a “major hurricane” near Bermuda, after which it weakened steadily.

Epsilon, moving to the northeast and posing no threat to the US, is packing sustained winds of 110 kph and at 2100 GMT its center was located 675 km east of Cape Race on the Canadian island of Newfoundland.

With Epsilon, there have been 10 hurricanes so far this Atlantic storm season, of which the most powerful was Laura, which made landfall in Louisiana in late August killing at least 77 people and doing some $14.1 billion in damage along its track.

Hurricane Delta also made landfall in Louisiana on Oct. 9.

This year’s Atlantic storm season, which officially ends on Nov. 30, is the second most active since records have been kept, has been exceeded only by 2005 in the number of storms and hurricanes.

Epsilon is the name of the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet, with the Greek letters being used to name storms and hurricanes when all 21 names on the yearly list prepared by the World Meteorological Organization have been used.

In 2005, the year in which the powerful Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma hit the US, there was also a storm named Epsilon.


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