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Thursday, Dec 03, 2020

Zeta reaches hurricane category heading to Mexico and the US

Tropical storm Zeta reached hurricane status on Monday as it moved toward the Yucatan Peninsula, a region of Mexico dotted with resorts, on a trajectory that could take it to the US coast of the Gulf of Mexico by midweek.

As of Monday afternoon, Zeta was located 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of the island of Cozumel, according to the US National Hurricane Center. It showed maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour.

The storm was moving northwest at about 10 mph (17 km / h) after barely moving over the weekend. Forecasters expected it to pass over the Yucatan Peninsula later Monday before heading to the Gulf of Mexico and approaching the US coast by Wednesday, though it may have weakened by then.

Trees felled by Hurricane Delta just three weeks ago are still lying in parts of Cancun, piled up on the side of avenues and in parks. There is concern that they could become projectiles when Zeta crosses the peninsula. Several traffic lights at the vacation destination have not been repaired since the Delta crossing.

Local authorities take the storm seriously, but with a distinctly lower alarm tone than when Delta gained Category 4 storm strength near the coast. The state of Quintana Roo suspended the sale of alcohol as of Monday and Governor Carlos Joaquín González urged the population to avoid going out into the streets on Monday night.

Some residents are pulling their boats out of the waters, but the panic buying that winds up ahead of Delta's arrival didn't happen Monday.

State authorities reported the presence of almost 60,000 tourists in the state in the middle of the week. The state government indicated that 71 shelters are set up for tourists or residents who may need them.

The current forecast is that Zeta will pass through Cozumel and south of Playa del Carmen. Delta made landfall on October 7 between Playa del Carmen and Cancun with winds of 175 km / h (110 mph).

The government is still delivering aid, including tin roofs, to Yucatán residents affected by Hurricane Delta and Tropical Storm Gamma earlier this month.

The hurricane watch was extended for the Yucatan Peninsula, from Tulum to Dzilam, including Cancun and Cozumel.

Zeta had stayed on one spot Sunday, caught between two high pressure systems to the east and west, said hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy of the University of Miami.

The hurricane center estimated that Zeta could drop 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters) of rain over Mexico, the Cayman Islands and parts of Cuba, before hitting the central US coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

The storm is expected to make landfall somewhere between Louisiana and the western fringe of Florida.

Zeta is the 27th named storm of the Atlantic season and the 11th hurricane of the year. An average season has six hurricanes and 12 named storms.

This season has seen so many storms that meteorologists have turned to the Greek alphabet after exhausting the designated names.


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