Tropical Storm Zeta formed early Sunday morning in the Caribbean Sea 430 miles / 692 km southeast of Merida with sustained winds at 45 mph / 65 kph and with greater gusts.
Zeta is expected to cross over or near the Yucatan Peninsula late Monday and early Tuesday, possibly as a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds.
So far the weather system has caused only moderate alarm. The state government issued a low-level green alert for the east, starting at Telchec, Homún and Peto. A very-low-level blue alert applies to the western third of the state, including Merida and Progreso, where no more than rain is expected all week.
A hurricane watch was issued from Tulum to the coast between Dzilam Bravo and Rio Lagartos, 42 kilometers north of Tizimín in eastern Yucatan state, where this year’s storms have been particularly devastating. Cozumel was also named in the Hurricane Center’s 11 a.m. bulletin.
But as of Sunday morning, the storm was nearly stationary.
Zeta’s center is predicted to pass south of western Cuba early Monday and move either near or over the northern Yucatan Peninsula or the Yucatan Channel late Monday. From there, it could move into the southern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, and weaken before it reaches the central Gulf of Mexico by late Tuesday.
Southeast Louisiana remains in the cone for the 27th named storm of the season. The only other time the Atlantic produced this many named storms was during the 2005 hurricane season, when Epsilon formed on Nov. 29.
Source: National Hurricane Center