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Tropical Storm Zeta to Head North, Yucatán Under Hurricane Warning

Tropical Depression Twenty-Eight turned into Tropical Storm Zeta early on Sunday morning, and it could bring plenty of rain to Florida before targeting the Gulf Coast later this week. 

What You Need To Know

  • Tropical Storm Zeta formed early on Sunday morning
  • This is only the second Zeta on record, and the earliest one
  • It’s expected to track north toward the central Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Zeta is the latest in the laundry list of tropical systems that could threaten the United States this year.

The system initially formed as a tropical depression on Saturday near Cuba, adding to the near-constant stream of tropical activity during the record-setting 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Zeta is now the 27th named storm of the record-setting Atlantic hurricane season. 

A hurricane warning is now in place for parts of the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, including Cozumel. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for western Cuba.

Unlike Hurricane Epsilon, which mostly stayed out to sea, this storm will threaten land, including the United States.

Computer forecast models still vary about where this storm might go, showing a wide array of potential forecast tracks for this system. However, the current forecast takes the storm into the central Gulf Coast sometime on Wednesday.

Zeta is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane toward Tuesday morning as it enters the Gulf of Mexico.

Regardless of the system’s track or intensity, it will pose a threat for heavy rain and flooding for Cuba and the Yucatan peninsula. Depending on the storm’s track, the Gulf of Mexico coastline and the Bahamas could also deal with rain and wind from this system as well.

Central and south Florida will see plenty of heavy rain from Zeta over the next few days as the system slowly spins north.

The Record-Breaking Season

This marks only the second time on record that we’ve seen a Zeta form. As the 27th-named storm of the Atlantic season, it’s also one storm short of the record for the most named storms in a single Atlantic season: The record currently belongs to the 2005 season with 28 named storms.

That’s far from all, though. You name the record, and there’s a decent chance that the 2020 Atlantic tropical season’s broken it.

From the earliest named storms on record to a record-breaking 10 U.S. landfalls already this season, 2020 is producing a laundry list of records – and we’ve still got about six weeks to go in the official season.

The National Hurricane Center named three storms on the same day, September 18, leading to another record for this hurricane season. This pushed us into the Greek alphabet.

We’ve now crossed Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon off the list, all the earliest times on record for those names in the Greek alphabet. 

It’s only the second time we’ve dipped into the Greek alphabet to name storms. That last time was in 2005 where we made it to Zeta, the sixth name on the list.

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