Zeta satellite image
GeoColor satellite image of Tropical Storm Zeta over the western Caribbean at 11:10 a.m. EDT Monday, October 26, 2020. The surface circulation center was nearly exposed to view, with all of the storm’s heavy thunderstorms restricted to the southeast side. (Image credit: RAMMB/CIRA/Colorado State University)

Hurricane warnings are up for Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, including Cozumel and Cancun, as Tropical Storm Zeta heads northwest across the western Caribbean toward an expected Monday night landfall in Mexico as a category 1 hurricane. Update: at 3:10 p.m. EDT Monday, Zeta was upgraded to a category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds and a central pressure of 981 mb, based on data from an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft.

Zeta is predicted to move into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday morning and make a second landfall in southeastern Louisiana as a category 1 hurricane or strong tropical storm on Wednesday.

If it makes landfall in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Zeta will be the third Greek-named storm to do so this month. Tropical Storm Gamma made landfall near Tulum on October 3 with 70 mph winds, and Hurricane Delta hit Cancun on October 7 as a category 2 storm with 110 mph winds.

If Zeta makes landfall in hurricane-weary Louisiana, it will be the record-breaking fifth landfall in a single season by a named storm in the state: Earlier this year, category 2 Hurricane Delta, Tropical Storm Cristobal, Tropical Storm Marco, and category 4 Hurricane Laura all hit the state. The current record for most landfalls in a single season in Louisiana is four, which 2020 shares with 2002, when Tropical Storm Bertha, Tropical Storm Hanna, Tropical Storm Isidore, and Hurricane Lili all hit the state.

Figure 1
Figure 1. Radar image of Zeta at 11 a.m. EDT October 26. (Image credit: National Weather Service, Cayman Islands)

At 11 a.m. EDT Monday, Zeta had top sustained winds of 70 mph, just below hurricane strength, and was headed northwest at 10 mph. The storm was spreading heavy rains over Jamaica, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands, as seen on Cayman Islands radar. Over the past two days, Zeta has brought widespread rainfall amounts of one to four inches to the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Cuba, and northern Honduras. At 1:10 p.m. EDT Monday, winds at buoy 42056, located 140 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, were sustained at 49 mph, gusting to 69 mph, with significant wave height of 22 feet.

Though Zeta’s winds were just below hurricane strength, satellite images early Monday afternoon showed the storm was struggling: Zeta did not have a well-defined core with an eyewall, and its center of circulation was nearly exposed to view, with all of its heavy thunderstorm activity restricted to the southeast side of the circulation. This condition was occurring because of upper-level winds out of the north-northwest injecting dry air into Zeta’s core, and creating 10-15 knots of wind shear. Water vapor satellite imagery showed Zeta had good upper-level outflow on all sides, but dry air over the Gulf of Mexico was apparent, and that dry air has the potential to continue inhibiting development in the coming days.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Track forecasts out to five days for Zeta from the 6Z (2 a.m. EDT) Monday, October 26, run of the GFS ensemble model (GEFS). The black line is the mean of the 31 ensemble members; individual ensemble member forecasts are the thin lines, color-coded by the central pressure they predict for Zeta. The strongest forecasts predict a landfall more to the east, near the Alabama/Florida border. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Track forecast for Zeta

A ridge of high pressure to the northeast will keep Zeta on a northwesterly track at a speed of 10-15 mph through Tuesday afternoon,  carrying Zeta over the northeastern Yucatan Peninsula between 7 p.m. and midnight CDT Monday night, and then into the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday morning. By Tuesday night, an approaching trough of low pressure over the central U.S. is expected to turn Zeta more to the north and then north-northeast, with a landfall expected along the central Gulf Coast on Wednesday afternoon or evening.

If Zeta is a moderate-strength tropical storm in the northern Gulf of Mexico, an outcome the European model and its ensembles suggested on Monday morning, a landfall in central Louisiana is more likely, since Zeta will be steered more by the low-level flow. That flow will tend to take the storm to the north. If stronger, at hurricane strength, Zeta will “feel” the upper-level winds out of the southwest from the approaching trough. In that case, it will track more to the north-northeast, resulting in a landfall farther east, in southeast Louisiana – or perhaps as far east as Alabama.

Figure 3
Figure 3. Predicted wind speed (colors) and sea level pressure (black lines) for Zeta at 11 p.m. EDT Wednesday, October 28, from the 6Z Monday, October 26, run of the HWRF model. The model predicted that Zeta would be making landfall in southeastern Louisiana as a strong tropical storm with 70 mph winds. (Image credit: Tropical Tidbits)

Intensity forecast for Zeta

Zeta will have favorable conditions for intensification up until landfall Monday night in Mexico, with light to moderate wind shear of 5-15 knots, ocean temperatures of 29-30 degrees Celsius (84-86°F), and a moist atmosphere with a mid-level relative humidity of 65%. Zeta will be passing over the northwest Caribbean with the highest heat content of any waters in the North Atlantic – a strong basis for rapid intensification.

However, for it to develop in these conditions, Zeta needs to overcome its current poor structure and get rid of its tilted vortex. The wind shear affecting the storm is expected to relax late Monday afternoon, which should allow Zeta to align itself vertically, close-off an eye, and undergo some modest intensification. That said, the storm will not have much time before making landfall, so it is unlikely to be stronger than a category 1 hurricane with 90 mph winds at landfall in Mexico Monday night.

Most of the top intensity models predicted with their Monday morning runs that Zeta would range between a strong tropical storm with 65 mph winds to a category 1 hurricane with 85 mph winds from now until landfall occurs Wednesday along the U.S. Gulf Coast. If Zeta makes landfall as expected on Monday night in Mexico, considerable disruption to the storm likely will reduce the top winds by 10-20 mph, and Zeta may then need a day or so to reorganize and re-intensify over the Gulf of Mexico.

The 12Z Monday run of the SHIPS model gave good odds that Zeta would undergo rapid intensification: a 36% chance that it would intensify by 30 mph by Tuesday morning (three times higher than the climatological odds), and a 20% chance that it would intensify 50 mph by Tuesday night, into a category 3 hurricane (four times higher than the climatological odds).

On Tuesday night and Wednesday, when Zeta will be approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast, the storm will encounter more hostile conditions for intensification. Waters beneath the storm will be significantly cooler, wind shear will rise, and dry air over the Gulf could wrap into its core. However, a strong band of upper-level winds to the north of Zeta will provide a more efficient upper-level outflow channel as the storm approaches the coast, helping to counteract the increased shear.

Delta is record-setting 10th named storm to make U.S. landfall in a season

Sally, Laura, and Delta all encountered similar conditions when they made landfall earlier this year; Sally and Laura did not weaken before landfall, but Delta did. Expect Zeta to behave more like Delta, since the ocean temperature structure of the Gulf is similar to what Delta encountered. A reasonable uncertainty range for Delta’s winds at landfall in the U.S. is 60-85 mph (strong tropical storm to category 1 hurricane strength).

Zeta will be moving rapidly at landfall in the U.S., with a forward speed of 20-25 mph, which will limit the amount of rainfall. The current NHC forecast calls for two to four inches of rain in the U.S., with isolated amounts of up to six inches – an unusually low amount of rainfall for a landfalling category 1 hurricane.

Editor’s note: this post was updated at 3:20 p.m. EDT October 26, with Zeta’s upgrade to hurricane status.

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Posted on October 26, 2020 (1:07pm EDT).

Topics: Weather Extremes
42 Comments
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Afrim Alimeti
Afrim Alimeti
1 month ago

comment image

Last edited 1 month ago by Afrim Alimeti
ChanceShowerLA
ChanceShowerLA
1 month ago

comment image

ChanceShowerLA
ChanceShowerLA
1 month ago

comment image

Art
Art
1 month ago

comment image

HadesGodWyvern
HadesGodWyvern
1 month ago

Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #31 – 15:00 PM JST October 27 2020
TYPHOON MOLAVE (T2018)
=============================================
South China Sea

At 6:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Molave (950 hPa) located at 13.3N 113.4E has 10 minute sustained winds of 85 knots with gusts of 120 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 14 knots.

Storm Force Winds
================
60 nm from the center

Gale Force Winds
===================
240 nm from the center in northern quadrant
180 nm from the center in southern quadrant

Dvorak Intensity: T5.5

Forecast and Intensity
=========================
12 HRS: 14.2N 110.9E – 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
24 HRS: 15.1N 108.4E – 75 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) over land Vietnam
48 HRS: 15.8N 103.7E – Tropical Depression over land Thailand

uruk
uruk
1 month ago

A question from a weather enthusiast. Why do most 2020 TCs seem to have made a a landfall on the same locations, the central Gulf coast, Yucatan, Bermuda? Or os it just my impression?

GTstormChaserCaleb
GTstormChaserCaleb
1 month ago
Reply to  uruk

Hi uruk,

Timing of troughs and ridges will do that and considering the record activity it increases the probability of multiple landfalls near or at the same locations. For example 2004, featured Hurricane’s Frances and Jeanne, which both made landfall at Hutchinson Island near Port St. Lucie and Stuart on the East Coast of Florida, just three weeks apart from each other.

Looking even further back in time we can make a case for 1886 as seeing a similar outcome to 2020 in terms of the multiple landfalls at or near the same locations:

Track of Hurricane Frances:
comment image

Track of Hurricane Jeanne:
comment image

Tracks of all tropical cyclones of the 1886 Atlantic Hurricane Season:
comment image

ChanceShowerLA
ChanceShowerLA
1 month ago

comment image

HadesGodWyvern
HadesGodWyvern
1 month ago

Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #29 – 9:00 AM JST October 27 2020
TYPHOON MOLAVE (T2018)
=============================================
South China Sea

At 0:00 AM UTC, Typhoon Molave (955 hPa) located at 13.3N 114.8E has 10 minute sustained winds of 80 knots with gusts of 115 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 13 knots.

Storm Force Winds
================
50 nm from the center

Gale Force Winds
===================
180 nm from the center in northern quadrant
150 nm from the center in southern quadrant

Dvorak Intensity: T5.5-

Forecast and Intensity
=========================
12 HRS: 14.0N 112.3E – 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
24 HRS: 15.0N 109.7E – 80 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
48 HRS: 15.7N 104.6E – Tropical Depression over land Thailand

Art
Art
1 month ago

hope this list helps someone…….comment image?2df04ff9dd6960004f313b465cd2e8e9

jiiski
jiiski
1 month ago

Thanks so much, Dr. Masters. I’m really grateful for your work.

jimijr
jimijr
1 month ago
Reply to  jiiski

And thank you for your recent kind remarks.

Art
Art
1 month ago

well good night everyone..maybe some rain here later tonight,,,http://radar.weather.gov/lite/N0R/TBW_loop.gif?e766b0f129642fa3fff1f7832876e86e

Art
Art
1 month ago

comment image?crop=16:9&width=980&format=pjpg&auto=webp&quality=60

Skyepony
1 month ago

Zeta

10262100Zeta.png
Amature Met
Amature Met
1 month ago
Reply to  Skyepony

So does this now fit Dr. Masters definition of a stronger storm now with the slightly more E landfall? Or was he speaking of after it leaves the Y peninsula? I could not quite git that straight.

Thanks

Looks stronger to me.

White Rabbit
White Rabbit
1 month ago
Reply to  Amature Met

His prediction had to do with the strength of the storm when it was in the northern gulf. But just look at the forecasts and model agreement now.

Storm Master
Storm Master
1 month ago

Looks like we have exceeded or max commits. That can be reached

Storm Master
Storm Master
1 month ago
Reply to  Storm Master

On the other site

Skyepony (mod)
1 month ago
Reply to  Storm Master

Just posted in there. You have to refresh to see it. Pretty much same as here:P

Athena
Athena
1 month ago
Reply to  Storm Master

It’s working. It might just be a Disqus issue, in general.

ChanceShowerLA
ChanceShowerLA
1 month ago
Reply to  Storm Master

I’m currently having problems as well….not refreshing anything even after reloading page….I’ll check back again in a few minutes….

HadesGodWyvern
HadesGodWyvern
1 month ago

comment image India Meteorological Department Satellite Bulletin

IMD_SatBulletin202010262330.jpg
Last edited 1 month ago by HadesGodWyvern
SunnyDaysFl
SunnyDaysFl
1 month ago
Reply to  HadesGodWyvern

Not everyone is xenophobic. Some of us are interested in all tropical cyclones not just those in the Atlantic.

O. Smith
O. Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  HadesGodWyvern

Speak for yourself, Rush. This is a weather blog, not a US weather blog. Not everything in the world is about the US. I, for one read and appreciate what Hades has to say. Without this info, I would not be so aware of what goes on the other side of the planet. A planet we all live on, I might add to you. So suggest you take your own advice. Pipe down and learn something.

fyrebyrd042
fyrebyrd042
1 month ago

Disqus thread closed? 😛

Skyepony
1 month ago
Reply to  fyrebyrd042

Looks open to me..

SunnyDaysFl
SunnyDaysFl
1 month ago
Reply to  fyrebyrd042

I have to refresh to get new comments, it does not inform me that there are some.

ChanceShowerLA
ChanceShowerLA
1 month ago

comment image?hash=77579

Amature Met
Amature Met
1 month ago

Dr. Masters, Thank you,
I see we have Hurricane Z now. Not unexpected but wow.

ChanceShowerLA
ChanceShowerLA
1 month ago

Thanks for the Monday update, Dr. Masters!

Crescent
1 month ago

Just taking a few minutes away from our hurricane prep to read your post. Thank you for your work. We live just south of Cancun and have been following your weather posts for years. Not looking to another hurricane but it is made less scary by better understanding the factors that affect the storms.

HadesGodWyvern
HadesGodWyvern
1 month ago

Japan Meteorological Agency
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #27 – 3:00 AM JST October 27 2020
TYPHOON MOLAVE (T2018)
=============================================
South China Sea

At 18:00 PM UTC, Typhoon Molave (965 hPa) located at 13.4N 116.0E has 10 minute sustained winds of 75 knots with gusts of 105 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving west at 14 knots.

Storm Force Winds
================
50 nm from the center

Gale Force Winds
===================
180 nm from the center in northern quadrant
150 nm from the center in southern quadrant

Dvorak Intensity: T4.5

Forecast and Intensity
=========================
12 HRS: 13.8N 113.5E – 85 knots (CAT 4/Very Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
24 HRS: 14.4N 110.9E – 80 knots (CAT 3/Strong Typhoon) South China Sea
48 HRS: 15.5N 105.5E – 35 knots (CAT 1/Tropical Storm) over land Thailand
72 HRS: 16.2N 100.2E – Tropical Depression over land Thailand

Don
Don
1 month ago

Dear Louisiana,

Please apologize. I know you don’t know what you did wrong, nobody does, but it seems pretty clear you did something so the best thing to do is just apologize for everything. Cover all your bases.

WeathermanWill
WeathermanWill
1 month ago
Reply to  Don

We did and have been apologizing.
Now it’s more like WTH or the h___ with it.
After living in SE LA this year if you ain’t ready for a storm you can only blame yourself at this point.

Susan Anderson
Susan Anderson
1 month ago

I noticed current projected path goes on to New Jersey. Lots of rain and pretty high winds.

cloudy2
cloudy2
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan Anderson

the area needs rain. no one needs high winds. do you have any idea of mph?

Athena
Athena
1 month ago
Reply to  Susan Anderson

From Boston wx report: IT’S POSSIBLE ON FRIDAY THAT THERE MAY EVEN BE A FLIP TO SNOW ESPECIALLY IN THE HIGHER TERRAIN. https://www.wcvb.com/article/video-heavy-rain-wind-snow-threat-from-late-week-storm/34485260

greiner3
greiner3
1 month ago

So many events happening in this year 2020.

Athena
Athena
1 month ago
Reply to  greiner3

About 2020

DST.jpg
Sunny
Sunny
1 month ago
Thank you, Dr. Masters!  Waiting here in the NW Yucatan - bands of rain on & off here today!
Art
Art
1 month ago
Reply to  Sunny

i was down there in Cancun in 84,beautiful,easy going resort town, had a great time there, hope it gets no damage from this storm