SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Zeta is looking to gain hurricane status once again in the very near future as it moves over warm waters in the south central Gulf of Mexico over the next 12 hours. It’s going to make landfall near SE Louisiana or near Mississippi tomorrow late afternoon as a category 1 hurricane with sustained winds near 80 mph and gusts to 100 mph.
Hurricane warnings are up from south central LA to the border of MS and AL. A tropical storm warning is up for the extreme western portion of Florida which includes the Pan Handle of Florida. There is really good agreement with all of the forecast models that this storm will not deviate much as high pressure over Florida will continue to steer Zeta to the north and then to the NE through the day on Wednesday.
This same high pressure will keep skies sunny through much of Wednesday with high temperatures getting close to setting or tying a record for the 3rd straight day. The high at the Sarasota/Bradenton airport topped out at 92 degrees on Tuesday breaking the old record of 90 set in 1960. Look for only a few isolated showers or thunderstorms late in the afternoon and through the early evening.
Thursday will be a little different as winds begin to turn more toward the S/SW and some slightly drier air begins to move in. We will see mostly sunny skies throughout much of the day with only a 20% chance for a late day shower or two. The high on Thursday will be in the upper 80′s.
Friday we will see a weak cold front move in wrapping around what is left of Zeta to our north. This front will move through the area around noon on Friday. Look for increasing cloudiness and a good chance for a few passing showers or an isolated thunderstorm. The high on Friday expected to be a bit cooler reaching into the mid 80′s and winds switching around to the NW and picking up in intensity behind the front.
Somewhat cooler and drier air will slide in on Saturday with lows to start the day in the upper 60′s under mostly sunny skies and no threat of any rain. Should be a pleasant day with a high in the low to mid 80′s and winds out of the north at 10-15 mph.
Sunday should also be nice with a high in the mid 80′s for most and low 80′s near the coast. There is only a 20% chance for a shower in the afternoon and that would be mainly inland areas.
Waves will be big for a few days from now until Friday which may cause some rip currents along the area beaches. We will see winds out of the SE/S at 15 knots to start the day and let up in the afternoon to 5-10 knots. Seas will be in the 2-4 foot range in the bays and inland waters.
Boaters beware we may see some wind and sea advisories for Suncoast waters on Friday due to the cold front.