The northern Gulf of Mexico coastline and in particular Louisiana is facing another strong tropical storm or perhaps even a hurricane threat this week, as Zeta, the 27th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic season takes aim.
Tropical storm Zeta formed in the Caribbean over the weekend and is now expected to make landfall on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula later today, before heading into the Gulf of Mexico and setting a course for the northern Gulf Coast.
Currently packing 70 mph sustained winds with higher gusts, hurricane Zeta is likely to be designated in the coming hours before its Yucatan encounter, after which the forecast calls for the storm to remain a hurricane through the first-half of the week in the Gulf, but potentially for Zeta to weaken back to tropical storm strength just before landfall, which is currently slated for Louisiana.
Forecasts suggest wind shear in the northern Gulf region may be at elevated levels once a hurricane Zeta nears the United States, which could hinder its development and weaken the storm prior to landfall.
In the meantime the Gulf of Mexico waters have cooled slightly, meaning fuel for intensification of a hurricane Zeta is not as abundant as before.
But still, intensity guidance from forecast models suggests that Zeta could reach a strong Category 1 hurricane strength as it passes through the Gulf, hence a still potentially impactful landfall cannot be ruled out, especially if Zeta hits a region already affected by hurricanes this season.
The cone of uncertainty suggests eventual landfall on Wednesday anywhere between Louisiana and the Florida panhandle, with some uncertainty over how Zeta will behave if it curves more into the Panhandle region and what this could mean for its intensity.
Still, for the insurance, reinsurance and insurance-linked securities (ILS) market, Zeta does not look likely to be a significant threat, but it could serve to further erode reinsurance aggregates and complicate any already challenging claims assessment situation in certain parts of the northern Gulf Coast.
You can see the latest forecast windspeed intensity guidance from certain models, thanks to TropicalTidbits.com, below:
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has already caused somewhere around US $23 billion to US $26 billion of insurance and reinsurance market losses, which storm Zeta threatens to take a little higher at least.
Forecasters are generally in consensus about the expected wind-shear and weakening prior to landfall, which could save the northern Gulf Coast region and insurance or reinsurance capital from another multi-billion impact this week.