The National Hurricane Center has determined that the winds of Hurricane Zeta have now increased to 100 mph, making Zeta a category 2 hurricane. The storm is expected to make a direct hit to the city of New Orleans tonight. Hopefully, the storm is finished strengthening, but it still has several hours left to be over open water before moving inland.
Atmospheric and oceanic conditions are expected to keep the intensity of Zeta in check. Waters are cooler near the shore, thanks to previous storms this season churning those waters up. Atmospheric winds are expected to begin increasing this afternoon, too, which would weaken the core of the storm. Zeta will be the fifth named storm to make landfall in Louisiana this hurricane season. The hurricane season ends November 30.
Hurricane Zeta looks impressive on satellite this afternoon.
Closer to home, we still have plenty of rain coming in from a storm system approaching from the west. This system will then tap into moisture and energy from Zeta tonight, leading to more rainfall. Winds should begin picking up overnight in our area, possibly gusting to 20 mph by Thursday morning. Rainfall amounts of 2-3 inches are expected areawide, with isolated higher amounts possible for some areas on the plateau.