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Hurricane Zeta makes landfall in Louisiana

The storm will bring impacts to NWFL tonight
Published: Oct. 24, 2020 at 5:17 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2020 at 8:04 AM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -

UPDATE 6:45PM 10/28/2020: As of the 4:00pm advisory, Hurricane Zeta has sustained winds of 110 miles per hour and is moving north-northeast around 24 knots. The storm made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana earlier this afternoon, and is bringing hurricane impacts to the majority of southeastern Louisiana, including New Orleans. The storm is expected to move quickly inland, arriving in central Alabama just after midnight tonight. Primary impacts for Northwest Florida will be seen primarily from midnight Thursday through around 7:00am, with the potential for severe weather including tornadoes along those bands. Most of the Panhandle won’t see tropical storm force winds, however Okaloosa, Walton and Holmes counties will have the potential for some gusts of tropical storm force.

Storm Impacts for NWFL...

1. Possibility of tornadoes overnight

2. Winds 15-25 mph w/gusts to 40mph

3. 1-2″ of rain at most, but most will see <.50″

4. 1-3′ of storm surge this evening

UPDATE 8AM 10/28/2020: Tropical Storm Warnings have been extended east for Walton and Holmes Counties, joining the warnings already issued for Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Escambia Counties to the west. Zeta has regained hurricane strength and is now forecast to reach a Cat2 hurricane before landfall in the Mississippi River Delta in Louisiana by the day’s end. This system will be moving quite fast to the northeast toward Alabama in the evening and weakening to a tropical storm as it passes by NWFL to our northwest, north of I-65 in Alabama. However, at its closest pass to NWFL, some tropical storm force winds will be possible west of HWY331. We’ll also see the tail end of Zeta join with a cold front moving in behind this system to produce a squall line of storms which will pass through NWFL Thursday morning. Some severe storms are expected along this squall line, with damaging winds and a few brief tornadoes can’t be ruled out. Impacts and timing from previous update remain unchanged and are listed in the prior update below...

Hurricane Zeta passes NWFL to the northwest overnight tonight.
Hurricane Zeta passes NWFL to the northwest overnight tonight.(WJHG)

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UPDATE 7:30PM 10/27/2020: Zeta weakened to a tropical storm last night, but is now getting better organized as it moves back over the Gulf of Mexico tonight. The storm is expected to become a Cat 1 hurricane before making landfall Wednesday late afternoon/evening over the Louisiana coastline.

As of now here is the timing of and expected impacts of what we can expect here in the panhandle.

1. Most of Wednesday will be dry w/rain chances around 30%

2. Winds will be SE at 10-20 mph Wednesday during the day

3. Peak storm surge in our area will be 1-3′ Wednesday afternoon/evening

4. Peak winds will be near 40mph mainly over Okaloosa County. Some gusts to TS force will be possible over Walton, Okaloosa & Holmes Counties. The rest of our area will likely not see TS winds or gusts.

5. Severe weather will be possible overnight Wednesday into Thursday AM w/tornadoes being possible as well as gusty damaging straight-line winds

6. 1-2″ of rain is expected

To recap, the primary threats for our area will be the storm surge and the threat of tornadoes.

UPDATE 8:00AM 10/27/2020: Zeta weakened to a tropical storm overnight as it moved across the Yucatan Peninsula. This morning the system emerges into the Gulf of Mexico where we’ll see it strengthen back into a Cat1 Hurricane through the day today. Not much has changed from the previous update, as the track still takes Zeta toward Louisiana with landfall sometime late Wednesday, then northeast into MS and AL to the northwest of the Florida Panhandle by Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Threats remain the same as the previous update, although sustained winds may reach up to 30-40mph briefly early Thursday morning for areas west of Hwy331, a few gusts may be a bit higher in Northern Okaloosa County near Crestview.

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UPDATE 7:30PM 10/26/2020: Zeta was upgraded to a Cat 1 80mph hurricane this afternoon. The storm will cross the Yucatan tonight before moving back into the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday. Models remain in good agreement that the storm will turn north and eventually northeast as it rounds a ridge of high pressure in the Atlantic. The timing of that turn will be critical as to how close the storm will get to Northwest Florida. For now our area remains on the edge of the cone, but we are on the eastern side of the storm so some impacts are likely. The timing of landfall would be Wednesday evening.

As of now, here is what we are expecting for impacts here in the panhandle. Keep in mind that if the track shifts east we could see more significant impacts so stay aware of possible changes.

1. 1-3″ of Rain - Tue-Thu

2. 1-3′ of Storm Surge - Wednesday

3. Tornadoes - Thursday

4. Winds will remain under 40mph. Even gusts to 40mph appear unlikely.

See the video for the Facebook Live from Monday evening.

UPDATE 11:30AM 10/26/2020: Tropical Storm Zeta is likely to become the 11th USA land falling hurricane of the 2020 season, after it makes landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula it’ll head toward the North Central Gulf Coast. 2020 has already set the record for land falling hurricanes in the Continental US surpassing 1916 which had 9. Since records began in 1851, only two other seasons had 11 or more hurricanes form, 1950 & 2005.

Zeta may reach hurricane strength before landfall in the Yucatan tonight. We’ll see it weaken a little as it moves across the peninsula and enters into the Southern Gulf Tuesday. Some gradual strengthening is possible as it moves on a more northerly track through the Gulf toward Louisiana. By late Tuesday and into Wednesday morning we’ll see a more northeasterly turn with landfall into late Wednesday somewhere from Louisiana to the border of MS & AL.

With landfall to our west, we’ll see some impacts here in NWFL, however, no major impacts are expected.

Rainfall: 1 to 3″, higher amounts west of Hwy331, lesser amounts east of Hwy231

Wind: There’s a 10-20% chance for tropical storm force winds of up to 40mph.

Surge: Low, 1 to 2ft

Surf: Likely to be a High Surf and Rip Current Advisory in effect Wednesday and Thursday

Severe: There’s a low end risk of severe thunderstorms, a few isolated severe thunderstorms are expected, with a few weak and rather short-lived tornadoes possible.

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UPDATE 11:30PM 10/25/2020: Tropical Storm Zeta has strengthened with winds now 60 miles per hour, moving northwest at two knots. The storm track has again shifted to the west, so Northwest Florida is no longer in the cone of uncertainty. Impacts from Zeta are expected in our area on Wednesday into Thursday, with rain the primary impact we will see here.

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UPDATE 10:12AM 10/25/2020: Tropical Storm Zeta formed overnight to the southeast of the Yucatan Peninsula, and as of this update has sustained winds of 40 miles per hour, and is nearly stationary. The storm’s track has shifted slightly east, putting parts of our region back in the cone of uncertainty. It is also expected to remain at hurricane strength for a longer period of time than initially predicted.

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The National Hurricane Center has upgraded the disturbance south of the Gulf of Mexico to Tropical Depression 28, and will likely become Tropical Storm Zeta by the end of the weekend.

At this point, the NHC expects TD28 to become a hurricane before weakening into a tropical storm again before it makes landfall along the Gulf Coast. The track is expected to make a sharper right turn as the system approaches the coast, as it will become steered by a trough moving into the south-central United States Wednesday into Thursday.

We will continue to monitor this system closely.

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