25 October 2020

Zeta becomes 27th named storm, threatens northern Gulf coast

After a seemingly-endless wait, the disturbance in the western Caribbean was upgraded to Tropical Depression 28 on Saturday night, and then to Tropical Storm Zeta on Sunday morning.  This is the season's 27th named storm, and ties the record 2005 season, at least by that metric.

Zeta is expected to continue to organize and intensify, possibly hitting hurricane status by the time it reaches the northern Yucatan peninsula on Monday night.  Then, the environment is forecast to become increasingly hostile and Zeta should begin to deteriorate as it nears the U.S. coast.  However, that doesn't eliminate impacts from it, so stay tuned as we get closer to the middle of the week (landfall should be some time on Wednesday).

As if stuck in a rut, Zeta is also forecast to make landfall along the northern Gulf coast, just as Cristobal, Fay, Laura, Marco, Sally, Beta, and Delta did before it this season!

Rainfall, as usual, is a concern with this storm.  As of Sunday morning, the only part of the U.S. that will be impacted by it in the near future is extreme south Florida, where flood watches are in effect through Monday. But the Yucatan and western Cuba will also see heavy rain, and eventually, the north-central Gulf coast region will in a few days.

Catching up on the ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) metric, 2020 is at about 145% of average for the date, but we can see where it lies in relation to historical mega-seasons. The top 5 through October 25th are 1933, 1926, 2004, 2017, and 1893. 2005 and 1995 just fall short of that list at 6th and 7th places. 

Elsewhere across the basin, things look quiet in the foreseeable future. But if and when the time comes, the next couple of names on the list are Eta and Theta.

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