President Donald Trump has approved a Louisiana emergency declaration allowing for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts following the landfall of Hurricane Zeta. According to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at 10:00 (CDT) on Wednesday, October 28, Category-1 Zeta was located 227mi (365km) southwest of New Orleans, moving north at 18mph (29kph) with maximum sustained winds of 90mph (145kph). Zeta is forecast to make landfall as a Category-2 hurricane in the area of Terrebonne Parish Wednesday afternoon and move over New Orleans throughout the evening.
Hurricane Warnings have been issued along the southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi coasts, with Tropical Storm warnings issued along the Alabama and western Florida Panhandle coasts. Louisiana public utility company Cleco has doubled the number of contractors available to restore electricity and warned customers that potentially 300,000 customers could lose power in the state. The Cleco outage map can be found here.
A life-threatening storm surge is expected between Port Fourchon, Louisiana and Dauphin Island, Alabama. Overtopping of local, non-federal levee systems is possible within southern Louisiana outside of the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System.
Associated disruptions to transport, business, and utilities are possible over the coming days as the storm system passes.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from late May through to the end of November, with activity typically peaking in late August and early September. Numerous tropical storms form in the Atlantic Ocean during this period, with most affecting the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the east coast of the United States. Although communities in the region are generally well prepared for adverse weather conditions during the hurricane season, severe storms bring a significant risk of flooding and infrastructural damage.
Organized tropical activity tends to peak in August and September. Storms tend to flood sections of highways and cause dirt-based roads to become temporarily impassable. More organized systems, depending on intensity, can prove catastrophic in terms of tidal surge, wind damage, flooding, and mudslides.
Those in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.
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