The area is being pummeled by strong winds and heavy rains, and the storm is expected to bring storm surge of 2 to 4 feet above normal tides, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Punta Allen to Progreso, Mexico, and Cozumel.
Zeta is forecast to lose energy as it crosses the Yucatán, but it will likely remain a Category 1 as it moves across the Gulf Coast to make landfall between the Mississippi River Delta and Mobile, Alabama, Wednesday evening.
Preparations for the storm are underway in New Orleans, Louisiana, where voluntary evacuations have been issued for areas outside their levee system, including Irish Bayou, Venetian Isles, and Lake Catherine, starting Tuesday evening, a release from the City of New Orleans said.
The New Orleans metro area is bracing for tropical storm force winds, heavy rain and coastal flooding of four to six feet as a result of Hurricane Zeta, according to the city’s release.
Residents are being encouraged to gather emergency supplies, including food, water, and medications, for at least three days, and the City of New Orleans plans to provide sandbags to residents on Tuesday, the release said.
On Monday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an emergency declaration ahead of Zeta’s arrival. More than 1,150 Louisiana National Guardsmen have been activated and have a variety of high-water vehicles, boats and helicopters pre-positioned for search and rescue efforts, the Governor said.
Zeta could set records
It has been a very active hurricane season, and it could be record setting for Louisiana. Zeta is forecast to reach the state at or near hurricane strength Wednesday — and if it does, it will set the record for most named storms in the state in one season.
“The good thing and a bad thing at the same time is, we’ve had a lot of practice this year,” Edwards said.
And the area is still reeling from back to back storms.
“Even if it wasn’t quite as powerful as Hurricane Laura, it was much bigger,” Edwards said of Delta. “Obviously, this was a very serious, very large and powerful storm that produced significant amounts of damage.”
CNN’s Haley Brink and Taylor Ward contributed to this report.