Eyewall of powerful Hurricane Zeta goes over New Orleans

Eyewall of powerful Hurricane Zeta goes over New Orleans

Hundreds of thousands lost power, and almost 170,000 people in MS were still without electricity Thursday morning.

Louisiana has been especially hit hard this hurricane season. Tropical Storm Beta went ashore over the border in Texas, bringing winds and flooding rains.

Hurricane forecasters burned through the 2020 list of storm names in September and have had to use the Greek alphabet since then for names.

Gulf Power lineworkers began responding to power outages as soon as it was safe to do so, which is usually if winds are under 35 miles per hour.

Zeta's damaging winds will reach New Orleans, about 98 miles northeast from Cocodrie, Louisiana, and sweep "across portions of southeastern Mississippi, Alabama, and northern Georgia", said hurricane center forecaster Richard Pasch. Tropical storm warnings covered the affected states, plus North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell urged the city's residents to stay indoors while crews removed storm debris and restored power.

The storm approached as New Orleans officials announced that a turbine that generates power to the city's aging drainage pump system broke down Sunday, with no quick fix in sight.

Storm surge and hurricane warnings continue for the Mississippi Coast.

'I don´t think we´re going to be as lucky with this one, ' city emergency director Colin Arnold said. This extraordinarily busy season has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.

The deteriorating weather prompted early voting sites to close for hours in the western Florida Panhandle.

A Louisiana landfall would make Zeta the fifth named storm to directly strike the state this year after Cristobal, Marco, Laura and Delta.

Zeta's track is shifting to the east and it's continuing to strengthen, so it may cause as much as $3 billion in damages and losses as it makes landfall later Wednesday, up from earlier estimates of about $1 billion, said Chuck Watson, a damage modeler at Enki Research.

On the forecast track, the centre of Zeta will move across portions of the southeastern U.S. this morning, across the Mid-Atlantic states this afternoon, and emerge over the western Atlantic by tonight. The confluence of the MS and OH rivers, southern Appalachian Mountains and southern MS may be hit hardest. An average season sees six hurricanes and 12 named storms. Associated Press contributors include Gerald Herbert in New Orleans; Jay Reeves, in Birmingham, Alabama; Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland; Jeff Martin in Marietta, Georgia; and Gabriel Alcocer in Cancun, Mexico.

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