Hurricane Zeta to bring storm surge to parts of northern Gulf Coast, while wildfires continue to grow out West
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2020 AS OF 4:00 PM EDT
Hurricane Zeta continues to strengthen, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), with life-threatening storm surge and powerful winds predicted along parts of the northern Gulf Coast starting today. Currently, the Category 1 storm is located approximately 155 miles south-southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana, moving north at 17 miles per hour (mph) with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph. The NHC forecast the eye of Zeta will grow as it moves closer to the Gulf Coast. Zeta is anticipated to make landfall in southeastern Louisiana today with the highest storm surge inundation expected between the Mouth of the Pearl River and Dauphin Island, Alabama.
NOAA NHC prediction for Zeta storm path: Source
The NHC predicts damaging winds reaching inland across parts of southeast Mississippi and southern and central Alabama this evening. Heavy rainfall is expected for parts of the central United States (US) Gulf Coast into the Tennessee Valley, Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic States, and southern to central Appalachians through Thursday, with rainfall totals of two to four inches (with isolated predictions of six inches) expected across the listed areas. The anticipated rainfall could result in flash, urban, small stream, and minor river flooding. Tornadoes are predicted over southeastern parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle this afternoon. Tropical Storm Warnings were put in effect for the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Walton/Bay County Line in Florida.
Meanwhile, out west, 13 separate states are battling 52 large, active fires. California’s largest fire group, the August Complex, has burned nearly 900,000 acres of northern California to date since igniting on August 16, but is showing signs of slowing down with 93 percent containment. In southern California, high winds and warm weather have created severe fire danger; Shane Sherwood, a division chief for the Orange County Fire Authority, told The New York Times approximately 90,800 residents in Irvine were put under mandatory evacuation orders due to the Silverado Fire and the Blue Ridge Fire. While the Silverado Fire has only been active for one day, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) cautioned the fire has spread across 13,354 acres in Orange County and is only 25 percent contained.
Additionally, Colorado and Oregon continue to battle their own large fires. The Cameron Peak fire in Colorado has ballooned to cover 208,663 acres and is threatening Fort Collins and the surrounding region. Meanwhile, the Lions Head Fire, which started over Labor Day weekend, continues to burn through southeast Oregon, engulfing over 200,000 acres. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a continuing Red Flag warning on October 27 indicating that strong winds, low relative humidity, and warmer temperatures are possible and that residents in high-risk fire zones should be prepared to evacuate if necessary across Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, and Utah.
National Interagency Fire Center Interactive Wildfire Map: Source
With the continuation of a highly active wildfire season, emergency personnel are encouraging residents to stay alert about smoke advisories and air quality changes. Current smoke advisories, including information on How Smoke from Fires can Affect Your Health, can be found through the Air Now portal. In addition, useful resources for wildfire preparedness can be found at ready.gov and include packing essentials for constructing a “go-bag”, strategies for communication between family and friends, and personal safety alongside COVID-19 concerns.
The Ready Campaign: Source
FEMA provides guidance to individuals preparing for, experiencing, or affected by hurricanes. Hurricane Zeta brings the potential for life-threatening storm surge to many coastal communities. Individuals should heed the warnings of local authorities and prepare for hurricane and severe weather conditions.
Additionally, NOAA provides information on Storm Surge Warnings and Storm Surge Watch. If you are under a warning or watch, make sure to seek higher ground. Storm surge can pose a life-threatening danger from rising water filled with debris.
Wildfire Safety Infographics: Weather.gov
FEMA encourages individuals to prepare and plan for wildfires as these events can develop rapidly. Therefore, it is never too soon to prepare for a wildfire event. Individuals should follow the guidance of local authorities and remain safe as most of the fires remain largely uncontained across the US. The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates on current events and disasters impacting the nation, visit Disaster Discourse for the latest information.
- Remember, Ready.gov provides information on how to prepare for Wildfire and how to keep you and your family safe.
- The Los Angeles Times regularly updated tracking of California Wildfires: California Wildfires Map.
- The National Fire Protection Association provides wildfire preparedness tips: link
- Marin County provides a wildfire evacuation checklist: link
- FEMA provides an information video about how to be prepared for Wildfires: link
- Understanding the meaning of hurricane maps – a NY Times Opinion Piece: Those Hurricane Maps Don’t Mean What You Think They Meancu