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Zeta, Earliest 27th Named Storm on Record, Could Hit Gulf Coast as a Hurricane

Zeta, Earliest 27th Named Storm on Record, Could Hit Gulf Coast as a Hurricane
Tropical Storm Zeta could be the fifth storm to hit Louisiana this season. National Hurricane Center

The extremely active 2020 hurricane season has another storm in store for the beleaguered Gulf Coast.

Tropical Storm Zeta, the earliest 27th named storm of any hurricane season, is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane Monday, NBC6 South Florida reported. It will likely remain at or near hurricane strength when it nears the U.S. Gulf Coast Wednesday, according to a 5 a.m. EDT update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

"It is unfortunate we face another tropical threat this late in a very active season," Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement Sunday. "We must roll up our sleeves, like we always do, and prepare for a potential impact to Louisiana."

Louisiana has been especially hard hit during the 2020 hurricane season, CNN reported. Late August's Hurricane Laura was the strongest storm to strike Louisiana since 1856. It killed at least 25 people in Louisiana and Texas and forced thousands to evacuate.

More than 8,000 of these evacuees were still living in shelters when Hurricane Delta arrived six weeks later, flooding roads, downing power lines and killing at least four people in total.

If Zeta does make landfall in Louisiana Wednesday, it will be the fifth to do so this year and it would break the record for the most named storms to hit Louisiana in one season.

The storm could also make landfall along the Florida Panhandle, which was drenched in September by Hurricane Sally, The New York Times reported.

"There's no question there's a lot of hurricane fatigue, but we're still going to have to prepare," NHC meteorologist and spokesman Dennis Feltgen told The New York Times.

Before it menaces the U.S., though, Zeta is forecast to move over or near the Yucatan Peninsula Monday. The government of Mexico's Quintana Roo state is preparing 71 shelters for residents and tourists, NBC6 South Florida reported. The government is still providing aid to people in the Yucatan who were impacted by Hurricane Delta and Tropical Storm Gamma.

2020 is in the running to dethrone 2005 as the most active hurricane season on record. The 2005 season had 28 named storms — 27 that were named as they occurred and one that was discovered after the fact and became an "unnamed named storm," Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach told NBC6 South Florida.

The climate crisis is making hurricanes wetter and more intense. Scientists are not sure how it will impact the total number of storm systems, but the most destructive ones are likely to become more frequent. Hurricanes and tropical storms are fueled in part by warm water, and almost all of the tropical Atlantic Basin has seen higher temperatures than normal this season.

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