Impacting Travel

Latest updates on the impact of Hurricane Zeta on travel

Update: October 29, 2020 at 8:30 am ET

Tropical Storm Zeta made landfall as a strong Category 2 hurricane near Cocodrie, Louisiana, in Terrebonne Bay Wednesday afternoon.

According to, the storm system brought damaging wind gusts and heavy rain as it moved inland through parts of the south, including winds reaching nearly 50 miles per hour at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

Airlines serving the region proactively canceled select flights in the storm’s projected track and continue to monitor the storm to make necessary adjustments. Current travel exemptions are in effect for select cities in Louisiana, Florida and Alabama for travel on October 28 and 29.

Hurricane Zeta continues to strengthen as it approaches the US Gulf Coast to make landfall on Wednesday.

According to, hurricane warnings have been issued from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi / Alabama border, including the New Orleans metropolitan area. The life-threatening storm surge, damaging winds and heavy rains are expected to arrive Wednesday afternoon into the evening.

The storm surge warning includes areas from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to Navarre, Florida, while a tropical storm warning is also in effect for parts of southern Mississippi, Alabama, the western tip of Florida, and northern Georgia.

Zeta is also expected to bring rains to the east coast through the end of the week, as the storm interacts with another weather system.

As a result, several major airlines have issued travel alerts, eliminated modified fares, and capped fares to airports in the projected path of the storm. Zeta could affect at least nine coastal airports in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Airlines such as American, Delta, Frontier, jetBlue, Southwest and United have issued travel advisories for the region.

Amtrak has adjusted its schedule and services on the Sunset Limited, Crescent and City of New Orleans routes due to the anticipated path of Tropical Storm Zeta. There will be no substitute transportation available to and from New Orleans.


Impacting Travel

Tropical storm Zeta impacts travel in Mexico, United States

Update: October 27, 2020 at 8:30 am ET

Travelers and residents in and around the US Gulf Coast are aware, as weather officials have issued hurricane and storm surge warnings ahead of Zeta’s expected arrival on Wednesday.


According to, Zeta weakened to a tropical storm after making landfall along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, but is forecast to regain strength from the hurricane Tuesday afternoon.

As a result of the forecast heavy rains, high winds and storm surge, airlines like American and Delta were the first to begin issuing travel advisories for airports in the United States in the path of the storm.

In addition to waiving foreign exchange fees for airlines serving facilities along the Gulf Coast, Amtrak also announced that it has modified service for Sunset Limited, Crescent and City of New Orleans trains.

Tropical Storm Zeta became the 27th named system of the 2020 season as it gathered steam in the western Caribbean and began moving toward the United States, forcing airlines to begin issuing travel advisories.

According to, the storm system was gaining strength over the warm waters between Honduras and Cuba Sunday night, with maximum sustained winds of about 50 miles per hour.

While the National Hurricane Center does not expect Zeta to be as strong as Hurricane Delta, the storm system is expected to become a hurricane on Monday and make landfall along the Yucatan Peninsula near Cancun and Cozumel on Tuesday. in the morning.

As a result, the four largest US airlines (American, Delta, Southwest, and United) have issued travel advisories for airports serving Cancun and Cozumel. Airlines waive change fees for flights scheduled through October 28.

Being a trend now

After passing over the Gulf of Mexico, Zeta is expected to regain strength and make landfall again in the U.S. between southeastern Louisiana and the western Florida Panhandle, marking the eighth storm to make landfall along the Gulf Coast this season.

The storm is expected to make landfall in the United States between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, bringing heavy rain, possibly deadly flooding, and high winds. Airlines in the US plan to expand travel advisories to include US cities as the path of the storm becomes clearer.

Zeta is the twenty-seventh named system of the 2020 season, just one short of the all-time record for the number of named storms in the Atlantic in a season.


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Hurricane Zeta Live Updates: Louisiana Again On The Path Of A Powerful Storm

Hurricane Zeta is the last storm of a busy season for the Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Zeta, a powerful storm that regained Category 1 strength Wednesday morning, swirled over the Gulf of Mexico on its way to southeast Louisiana, where it was believed to bring heavy rain and destructive winds in a state that has been repeatedly crushed by hurricanes this season. .

If the forecast holds, Zeta will be the fifth named storm to hit the state this year with about a month into hurricane season. The previous record of four was set in 2002, said Philip Klotzbach, a researcher at Colorado State University.

As of Wednesday morning, Zeta was 235 miles southwest of New Orleans and life-threatening storm surges and high winds were forecast to blow across southeast Louisiana by noon. The storm was moving at 18 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour. Further reinforcement was planned.

A hurricane warning was in effect Wednesday morning for part of the coast from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border and to the New Orleans metro area.

The storm is expected to make landfall in southeast Louisiana later Wednesday, then move through the southeast and eastern United States on Thursday, dumping up to six inches of rain in places.

Residents of New Orleans received a text from the city on Wednesday morning warning them that Zeta was likely a Category 2 hurricane by the time it made landfall – and urging them to complete preparations for the storm and be sheltered at inside at 2 p.m.

LaToya Cantrell, the mayor, warned via Twitter that the storm could also cause tornadoes.

“We are very concerned about the storm surge and flooding along the southeast coast of Louisiana and Alabama,” said Robbie Berg, hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. “Winds on the east side of the storm will push water out of the ocean toward the shore. We could see water levels this high at nine feet. “

The time left for residents to prepare is running out, he said. “We need residents, if they haven’t been evacuated and told to do so, they need to complete those evacuations,” Berg said. “If they are staying at home, they must prepare their homes for potentially strong and damaging winds. We think it will be a pretty severe storm.

Zeta, which hit Mexico’s northern Yucatán Peninsula Monday and Tuesday, is the 11th hurricane and 27th named storm in such a busy Atlantic hurricane season that forecasters have scoured the alphabet of names and are now working through Greek letters.

The northern Gulf Coast region has been strained by repeated storms – Cristobal in June, Laura and Marco in August, Sally and Beta in September, and Delta this month. Yet before making landfall, the storms veered east or west, scraping New Orleans with just a glance.

Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana declared a state of emergency and said on Tuesday evening that President Trump had approved the state’s request for a federal declaration of emergency. “While we don’t know exactly what #Zeta will bring, we do know that it will be a big help in the recovery process for communities that will feel“ the impact of the storm, ”he said.

While some residents jumped into action, preparing their property and preparing for whatever the storm might bring, others did not appear to be in distress.

“I’m done with that, really,” said Glen David Andrews, a trombonist, during a break from a concert at the Café du Monde in the French Quarter of New Orleans. He didn’t intend to put in much effort to prepare for the storm. “I’m going to charge my devices,” he says, “then sit down to take advantage of the wind as this 24-hour storm blows through town.”

In Plaquemines Parish, located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, southeast of New Orleans, Byron Encalade said he couldn’t afford to be a rider in the face of hurricanes. “Any storm I care,” said Mr. Encalade, 66, who recalled weathering storms as a child at the parish courthouse.

Zeta could also be a problem for birds.

Because Louisiana sits at a crucial crossroads in the Mississippi Flyway, which stretches from the Arctic to South America, late-season hurricanes can delay or cause detours for birds that move in. are heading to warmer climates.

In other words, Zeta can be bad news for wildlife.

As the hurricane blows through the Gulf of Mexico, it could strike herds of small warblers, vireos and indigo buntings, which are all set to cross the water this time of year, Erik Johnson said, director of bird conservation at Audubon in Louisiana. .

“A storm could be devastating for a migratory songbird that feeds just enough to cross the Gulf,” Mr Johnson said, noting that some herds could also delay take-off for a few more days in places like the Barataria Preserve in Louisiana, where migratory birds stop to eat hackberry and seeds before taking off for South America.

There are also other wildlife issues. In some national park wildlife areas, storm surge waters can temporarily push alligators closer to trails and buildings. “Once the alligators get home, we open again,” noted Dave Barak, a park ranger at the National Parks.

The storm hit Mexico earlier this week.

Zeta brought torrential rains when it hit Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula on Monday evening. It was a Category 1 hurricane at the time, and it was downgraded to a tropical storm on Tuesday morning.

The storm had caused power outages in at least two Mexican states and pushed sand on the roads. The storm’s waves were so large that destroyed turtle eggs were found on Playa Ballenas.

Climate change is making hurricanes wetter.

Part of this year’s devastation has been attributed to climate change, which has made hurricanes wetter and slower. But climatologists said the series of storms in Louisiana could also be blamed on sheer bad luck.

“It’s kind of like flipping a coin and having heads five times in a row – it happens,” said James P. Kossin, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, adding that “it’s not that surprising” given the size of the Gulf and the randomness of weather factors.

Along the Gulf Coast, hurricane veterans tend to tackle Category 1 storms with great strides. There was also the added benefit that late-season storms, like Zeta, typically move much faster than an early-season storm that can stall for 10 to 12 hours, overwhelming areas with wind and rain. .

And in New Orleans, there are fears that low-level hurricanes could be more damaging than expected. Even the weakest hurricanes can cause hardship or at least annoyance, as wind and rain destroy electricity and damage buildings.

Any heavy rain in the city is worrisome because of the city’s drainage system, a series of pumps that drain the city’s water in a bowl-shaped shape using electricity supplied in part by century-old turbines. On Sunday, the city’s Wastewater and Water Authority reported that Turbine 4, one of the largest systems, “unexpectedly went offline,” which raised concerns that the water from lower areas of the city would be pumped more slowly.

Reporting was contributed by Maria cramer, Christina morales, Katy Reckdahl, Rick rojas, John Schwartz and Derrick Bryson Taylor.

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Louisiana, still in shock from two hurricanes, belts for Zeta

The governor of Louisiana declared a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Zeta headed for the Gulf Coast in the state on Tuesday, which has already been battered by storm after storm during the prolific hurricane season of this year.

Zeta threatens to cause a potentially fatal storm surge along parts of the northern Gulf Coast by Wednesday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was expected to gain strength as it moved across the Gulf of Mexico.

“It’s easy to let our guard down at the end of the hurricane season, but that would be a huge mistake,” Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement Monday.

Zeta was demoted from a Category 1 hurricane, but it was expected to become a hurricane again later on Tuesday.

“We expect it to be close to hurricane strength when it hits the coast,” said Richard Pasch, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Winds are expected to reach at least 120 km / h by the time the storm makes landfall.

A hurricane warning remained in effect Tuesday morning for Morgan City, Louisiana, on the Mississippi-Alabama border, including the metropolis of New Orleans. Meteorologists have predicted up to six inches of rain in those areas and to the north.

If the forecast holds, Zeta will continue a pattern that occurred this year in which much of the storm damage does not come from wind but water.

Dr Pasch said the storm was expected to move faster than previous storms, but the storm surge could reach up to six feet or “maybe even more.” The storm surge alert stretches from the central Louisiana coast to the Florida Panhandle, he said.

The hurricane center also warned that a few tornadoes were possible Wednesday over southeastern Mississippi, southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.

Zeta is the 27th named storm in an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season, approaching the record set in 2005, when 28 storms became strong enough to have names.

Of the 27 storms named so far this year, only four were major hurricanes, classified as Category 3 or higher. (In 2005 there were seven major hurricanes, also a record.) Seventeen of the storms in 2020, with winds below 73 miles per hour, never exceeded the strength of tropical storms, but heavy rains accompanied many of them. Tropical Storm Bertha at the start of the season brought 14 inches of rain to parts of South Florida in late May.

The destructive effects of Hurricanes Laura and Delta were felt severely in Lake Charles, a working-class town of about 78,000 people.

Hurricane Laura made landfall on August 27 in Cameron Parish, south of Lake Charles, as a Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph. More than two dozen people have died in its aftermath. The trees were shredded and the inhabitants had to cover the destroyed roofs with blue tarpaulins.

Then, earlier this month, Hurricane Delta hit the coast as a Category 2 storm within 20 miles of where Laura made landfall. Delta triggered floods that besieged neighborhoods and heavy rains that inundated homes with already damaged roofs. Thousands of people remained displaced.

“I’m begging,” Mayor Nic Hunter told NPR. “I ask Americans not to forget Lake Charles.”

Rick Rojas and Henry Fountain contributed reporting.

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Zeta turns into hurricane and threatens to pour torrential rains

Such movements may also be linked to slowing atmospheric circulation, Dr Kossin said. “You won’t really get twists and turns until you have a slow storm,” he says. “They don’t move like karts.”

While Sally’s winds weren’t as intense as the strongest hurricanes – maximum sustained speeds early Wednesday were around 105 mph, about 50% slower than a Category 5 storm – in s lingering longer, the storm may also have increased the storm surge, the wind accumulating water that can quickly inundate coastal areas, often with devastating results.

But storm surges can be influenced by many other factors, including the timing of the tides and the shallow depth of a bay or other body of water. In this case, Sally’s slow speed “contributed more to extreme rainfall flooding than flooding,” said Rick Luettich, a professor at the University of North Carolina and lead developer of the main surge model used by forecasters. .

Dr Luettich said the storm surge was close to projections of about five feet. But another feature of some hurricanes which is linked to warmer oceans, the rapid strengthening of a storm before landing, “gave the water a greater push” than previous forecasts called for, he said. -he says.

Hurricanes are not the only type of storm affected by climate change, nor the only one that can cause catastrophic flooding on the Gulf Coast or in other areas. Record-breaking rain from a low pressure system in August 2016, a big storm that didn’t turn like a hurricane, caused flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A gauge east of town received 26.5 inches of rain in three days.

That storm triggered an attribution study, research that attempts to determine the extent, if any, of climate change influence on an extreme weather event. He found that climate change had increased the likelihood of such a storm along the Gulf Coast in any given year by 40 percent since 1900. In the current climate, there is a 3 percent chance for a given year of a similar storm.

“The risk of extreme precipitation events in this region has increased,” said Sarah Kapnick, a researcher at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, NJ, who worked on the study.

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Map: Hurricane Zeta Tracking

Hurricane Zeta, which formed in the Caribbean over the weekend, is poised to hit the United States this week.

Zeta was expected to touch down on the northern Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico on Monday and Tuesday before continuing north towards the Gulf Coast, which has been battered by several hurricanes during this exceptionally active season. Zeta is the 27th named storm this year, approaching a record set in 2005, when 28 storms became strong enough to have names.

It is expected to make landfall in Louisiana on Wednesday, which has yet to recover from flooding and wind damage from Hurricane Laura in late August and Hurricane Delta earlier this month.

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Tropical storm Zeta approaches the Gulf coast

Tropical Storm Zeta formed over the Caribbean over the weekend and could be near or near hurricane force by the time it makes landfall on the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, the National Hurricane reported on Sunday. Center.

The Hurricane Center in Miami turned Zeta into a tropical storm from a tropical depression early Sunday. This is the 27th named storm in an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season, approaching a record set in 2005, when 28 storms became strong enough to have names.

Zeta is expected to become a hurricane before making landfall on Wednesday, said Dennis Feltgen, spokesperson and meteorologist for the Hurricane Center in Miami. It’s set to deliver another devastating blow to the northern Gulf Coast, an area that was battered by Hurricane Laura in late August, Hurricane Sally in September and Hurricane Delta this month. These storms caused extensive property damage and were blamed for several deaths.

The Hurricane Center said in a advisory Sunday that Zeta “could be at or just below the strength of the hurricane” when it hits the Gulf Coast. Mr Feltgen said Zeta could bring storm surges and high winds and rain “over a wide area of ​​the northern Gulf Coast” from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

Zeta was hovering over the Caribbean on Sunday, Mr Feltgen said. “It’s getting organized,” he added.

Tropical storm conditions are expected in parts of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula late Monday and early Tuesday, and similar conditions are possible over the far west of Cuba on Monday evening, the center said.

Zeta joins a long list of storms this year, several of which have destroyed parts of the Gulf Coast. “They still face the legacy of Laura, Sally and Delta,” Mr. Feltgen said.

Hurricane Laura hit Lake Charles, Louisiana in late August; Hurricane Sally hit the Florida Panhandle with a deluge of rain in September; and this month, Hurricane Delta made landfall in Louisiana less than 20 miles east of where Laura struck, hitting the area as she was still trying to recover.

“There is no doubt that there is a lot of hurricane fatigue, but we are still going to have to prepare,” for Zeta, said Feltgen. Last week Hurricane Epsilon, which passed Bermuda and did not make landfall in the United States, became the 10th hurricane this season.

With Tropical Storm Wilfred last month, the Hurricane Center exhausted its list of names, turning to the Greek alphabet for the first time since 2005.

In that year, 28 storms became strong enough to have names. The National Hurricane Center named 27 storms during the season and identified a 28th qualifying storm in a post-season analysis: a subtropical storm that briefly formed in October 2005 near the Azores, an archipelago secluded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.