The latest tropical storm during a record-breaking 2020 Atlantic hurricane season formed this morning and may present a threat to the U.S. Gulf Coast later this week.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami said Tropical Storm Zeta formed near Cuba, becoming the earliest named 27th Atlantic storm recorded.
The formation of Zeta means so far this year’s Atlantic hurricane season is close to tying the all-time record of 28 set back in 2005.
As of 2 p.m. eastern today, the NHC said that Zeta is located about 275 miles south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba and 255 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.
The storm has maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and is stationary over the western Caribbean.
According to the NHC, the storm is forecast to make a northwestern turn by late today and increase in forward speed.
The storm is forecast to move near or over the northern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico late tomorrow before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. A hurricane watch has been issued for areas of the Yucatan.
Gradual strengthening is expected, and Zeta is forecast to become a hurricane by late tomorrow or early Tuesday. The storm is also expected to pick up speed, with impacts possibly reaching the central Gulf Coast by midweek.
Current forecast models show Zeta is forecast to approach the northern Gulf Coast as a tropical storm Tuesday night and Wednesday. The storm could bring storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
Residents in these areas are advised to monitor the forecast on the progress of Zeta.
There is just over one month left in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which ends November 30.