Zeta likely hurricane before hitting Yucatan, heading for US
CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — A strengthening Tropical Storm Zeta was expected to become a hurricane Monday on a track for Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula resorts and then likely move on for a possible landfall on the central U.S. Gulf Coast at midweek.
Zeta — the earliest ever 27th named storm of the Atlantic season — was centered about 140 miles (230 kilometers) southeast of Cozumel island Monday morning, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It had maximum sustained winds of 70 mph (110 kph).
The storm was moving northwest at around 10 mph (17 kph) after being nearly stationary over the weekend. Forecasters said Zeta was expected to move over the Yucatan Peninsula late Monday before heading into the Gulf of Mexico and then approach the U.S. Gulf Coast by Wednesday, though it could weaken by then.
Trees felled by Hurricane Delta barely three weeks earlier still litter parts of Cancun, stacked along roadsides and in parks. There is concern they could become projectiles when Zeta scrapes across the peninsula. There are still a number of stoplights around the vacation destination that have not been repaired since Delta.
Local authorities are taking the storm seriously, but with a distinctly less alarmed tone than when Delta strengthened to a Category 4 storm off the coast. Quintana Roo state suspended alcohol sales Monday and Gov. Carlos Joaquín González said everyone should be off the streets by Monday afternoon.
Residents were pulling their boats from the water, but the sort of panic buying seen in the run-up to Delta was not evident Monday.
State officials reported nearly 60,000 tourists in the state as of midweek. The state government said 71 shelters were being readied for tourists or residents who might need them.
Joaquín said he hoped it would not be necessary in most cases to move guests out of their...