FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Hurricane Zeta, which has been increasing in intensity and speed all day, is making landfall in southeast Louisiana as a Category 2 storm with 110 mph winds, according to the 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
Zeta, which is traveling at a brisk 24 mph, is almost a Category 3 hurricane, which is considered a major hurricane. A Category 3 hurricane has winds between 111 and 129 mph. Zeta was 1 mph from becoming the fifth major hurricane of the year joining Laura, Teddy, Delta and Epsilon.
Zeta made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana, according to the NHC.
Zeta became the record-breaking 11th named storm to make a U.S. landfall during the 2020 hurricane season, nearly all of them along the storm-ravaged Gulf coast.
But Zeta's landfall strength wasn't predicted. Tuesday's forecast called for Zeta to make landfall at or near Category 1 status, which means winds between 74 and 95 mph.
Zeta surprisingly underwent rapid intensification, which is defined as a wind increase of at least 35 mph in a 24-hour period.
The storm was a Category 1 hurricane when it made landfall in Mexico overnight Monday, but it dropped to a tropical storm after interacting with land.
Zeta was located 65 miles south-southwest of New Orleans at Wednesday's 5 p.m. advisory. Hurricane-force winds extended 35 miles from the storm's center and tropical-storm-force winds extended 150 miles from center.
This marks the seventh time New Orleans has been in the hurricane center's storm cone this year, according to The Weather Channel.
"On the forecast track, the center of Zeta will make a second landfall along the Mississippi coast this evening," the NHC said, "and then move across the southeastern and eastern United States on Thursday."