By James Spann, Alabama News Network
TROPICAL RAIN: Zeta has become a hurricane this afternoon, with sustained winds of 80 mph; it will move across the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula tonight and into the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday. Landfall should come Wednesday evening over southeast Louisiana as an upper-end tropical storm or minimal hurricane. The National Hurricane Center will issue a Hurricane Watch shortly for parts of the central Gulf Coast.
The remnant circulation will move through Alabama Thursday. As you look at the forecast tracks, remember the main rain shield with the system, once inland, is usually displaced north and east of the circulation center.
ON THE COAST: Zeta will be weakening as it approaches the coast due to cooler shelf waters and an increase in southwesterly shear over the system. It will will be capable of producing wind gusts to 50 mph over Mobile and Baldwin counties Wednesday night and gusts to 35 mph across the Florida Panhandle. Some storm flooding is possible as well.
Zeta will be accelerating, so rain amounts should be generally less than 3 inches for the Gulf Coast from Gulf Shores to Panama City Beach. Most of the rain comes Wednesday and Wednesday night; the sky will clear Thursday as the system moves away. A few isolated waterspouts or brief tornadoes are possible on the coast Wednesday and Wednesday night ahead of the system.
INLAND ALABAMA: Rain will increase statewide Wednesday afternoon and will be widespread Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Most of the really significant rain could be out of Alabama by Thursday evening as the remnant low moves quickly away. Rain amounts of 1 to 3 inches are likely; for now no major flooding is expected across the state.
Winds could gust to 40-45 mph over parts of west and southwest Alabama Wednesday night, and gusts to 30 mph are possible Thursday over north Alabama as the remnant low moves through. This is not expected to produce widespread tree and power line damage, although a few isolated issues are possible.
A few isolated, brief tornadoes are possible over the southern half of the state Wednesday night and possibly Thursday morning.
This is a tropical system and the situation could change, so keep up with the latest updates over the next few days.
FRIDAY AND THE WEEKEND: We are expecting some very nice autumn weather for Friday and Saturday — a good supply of sunshine both days with highs around 70 degrees. Sunday will be partly sunny, and an upper trough could bring a few showers to the southeast part of the state. The high Sunday will be between 67 and 70 degrees.
NEXT WEEK: For now the week looks mostly dry with seasonal temperatures.
TIME CHANGE: Don’t forget we go back on Standard Time this weekend; set your clocks back one hour before going to bed Saturday night. Sunset for Birmingham Sunday comes at 4:54 p.m.
ON THIS DATE IN 1952: There have been thousands of weather reconnaissance and research flights into hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific since the mid-1940s. There have been several close calls, but only four flights have been lost. A B-29 Super-fortress flight into Super Typhoon Wilma 350 miles east of Leyte in the Philippines disappeared on this date. No trace was ever found of the plane or crew. In the last report, the flight was in the Super typhoon’s strongest winds, which were around 160 mph.
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