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7 pm TUESDAY UPDATE: Zeta’s turn toward the north is expected tonight

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, the center of Tropical Storm Zeta was located over the southern Gulf of Mexico, approximately 410 miles south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Zeta is moving toward the northwest near 14 mph. A turn toward the north is expected tonight, and a faster northward to north-northeastward motion is expected on Wednesday.

On the forecast track, the center of Zeta will move over the central Gulf of Mexico tonight.

Zeta is forecast to approach the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, make landfall within the hurricane warning area late Wednesday or Wednesday night, and move across the southeastern and eastern United States on Thursday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph with higher gusts.

Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles from the center.

Zeta is forecast to become a hurricane again overnight and be at or near hurricane strength when it reaches the northern Gulf Coast late Wednesday.

An initial area of heavy rains will begin to impact the central Gulf Coast tonight, with the core of heavy rains spreading north into the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic through Thursday, near and in advance of Zeta. Rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches with isolated amounts of 6 inches are expected across these areas, resulting in flash, urban, small stream, and minor river flooding.

A few tornadoes are expected Wednesday and Wednesday night over southeastern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the western Panhandle of Florida.