Hurricane Zeta gained strength and speed overnight, as meteorologists said early Wednesday that the storm was expected to make landfall in southeast Louisiana in the afternoon as a Category 2 storm with maximum winds of 100 mph.
New Orleans, located directly on land from the projected landing site, is currently in the middle of the hurricane forecast cone and winds of between 90 and 100 mph are expected this afternoon.
New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell urged city residents to block the vents.
“We’ve had a lot of near failures this year,” Cantrell said chirp Wednesday morning. “It is now clear that #Zeta will be a direct hit in #NOLA. Complete your preparations this morning. Conditions will deteriorate in the afternoon.”
The New Orleans Regional Transportation Authority said the bus, ferry and streetcar service It will be suspended at noon Wednesday.
Ain Zita formed overnight, according to 7:00 a.m. CT National Hurricane Center forecast, Currently 295 miles southwest of New Orleans, and traveling north at 17 miles an hour
Strong winds also raised expectations for more storms, with coastal inundation of up to 9 feet expected when winds of Zeta hit the Gulf of Mexico on the lowlands.
NBC News meteorologist Bill Carens said Zeta’s shift has put New Orleans on the path of its expectations.
“Fast forward to allow Zeta to reach New Orleans without losing much of her power,” he said.
“The strong winds with this force will cause severe damage to trees, windows and roofs,” Carens said. “High-rise buildings will be particularly vulnerable to broken windows and flying glass.”
Hurricane warnings are in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana, east to the Mississippi-Alabama border, and a storm warning applies from the mouth of the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana to Navarre, Florida.
“A storm of this altitude will lead to widespread flooding in low-lying areas and damage to structures that have not been lifted,” Cairns said.
This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day.