Tropical Storm Zeta strengthens into hurricane as it heads towards Mexico

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Tropical Storm Zeta turned into a hurricane Monday afternoon as it continued on a track for resorts on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and is expected to make landfall in the United States on the central Gulf Coast. ‘here the middle of the week.Zeta, the 27th oldest named storm of the Atlantic season, was about 170 kilometers southeast of Cozumel Island on Monday afternoon, the US National Hurricane Center reported. It had maximum sustained winds of around 128 km / h.

The hurricane was moving northwest at about 17 km / h after being nearly stationary over the weekend. Zeta was due to move to the Yucatan Peninsula on Monday night before heading to the Gulf of Mexico, where it would move closer to the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday, forecasters said, although it could weaken d ‘here there.

Trees felled by Hurricane Delta just three weeks earlier still litter parts of Cancun, piled up along roadsides and in parks. There are concerns that they will become projectiles when Zeta scrapes the peninsula.

There are still a number of red lights around the vacation destination that have not been fixed since Delta.

Local authorities are taking the storm seriously, but with a significantly less alarmed tone than when Delta strengthened into a Category 4 storm off the coast.

The state of Quintana Roo suspended alcohol sales on Monday and Governor Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez said everyone should be off the streets Monday afternoon.

Beach hotel workers cover doors and windows with plywood as they prepare for the arrival of Tropical Storm Zeta in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The state government said 71 shelters are being prepared for tourists or residents who may need them. (Tomas Stargardter / AP photo)

Residents were pulling their boats out of the water, but the kind of panic buying seen as Delta approached was not evident on Monday.

State officials reported nearly 60,000 tourists to the state as of midweek. The state government said 71 shelters are being prepared for tourists or residents who may need them.

Joaquin said he hoped it wouldn’t be necessary in most cases to move guests out of their hotels.

The predicted track would have Zeta hit Cozumel and hit the mainland just south of Playa del Carmen. Delta made landfall on October 7 between Playa del Carmen and Cancun with winds of up to 175 km / h.

The government was still distributing aid, including tin roofs, to residents of Yucatan hit by Hurricane Delta and Tropical Storm Gamma earlier this month.

Zeta was dragging on Sunday because he was stuck between two powerful high pressure systems in the east and the west, said Brian McNoldy, hurricane researcher at the University of Miami.

The hurricane center said Zeta could bring 10 to 8 inches of rain to Mexico, the Cayman Islands and parts of Cuba before submerging the central Gulf Coast of the United States.

The storm could make landfall anywhere from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, forecasters said.

This satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Tropical Storm Zeta on Sunday, October 25. Zeta was trapped between two powerful high pressure systems in the east and west over the weekend. (NOAA / NESDIS / STAR / The Associated Press)

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards urged citizens to watch the storm as the state activates its crisis action team.

Zeta broke the record for the 27th oldest named storm in the Atlantic that formed on November 29, 2005, said Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University.

This year’s season has so many storms that the hurricane center turned to the Greek alphabet after running out of assigned names.

Zeta is furthest from the Greek alphabet that the Atlantic storm season has ended.

There was also a tropical storm Zeta in 2005, but that year had 28 storms because meteorologists later returned and found they had missed one, which then became an “unnamed named storm. Klotzbach said.

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