Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to become a hurricane on Monday.
At 1 a.m. Monday, NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft were studying the storm, which was centered 250 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico.
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. It was moving north-northwest at 2 mph.
A faster northwestward motion is expected over the next couple of days, followed by a turn to the north. On the forecast track, the center of Zeta will move near or over the northern Yucatan Peninsula or the Yucatan Channel by tonight, move over the southern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, and approach the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday.
Zeta is expected to become a hurricane before it moves near or over the Yucatan Peninsula.
Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from the center.
Rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches with local amounts of 12 inches are possible through Wednesday along and east-northeast of
Zetas track from Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, central to western Cuba, and the northeast Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. Additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches with local amounts of 4 inches are possible across Southern Florida and the Keys through Tuesday, with isolated storm total accumulations of 8 inches.
Between Wednesday and Friday, storm total rainfall of 2 to 4 inches, with local 6-inch amounts, is expected across sections of the U.S. Gulf Coast and the southern U.S. near and in advance of Zeta.
At present, the storm is expected to skirt South Arkansas to the east, although some areas may receive up to two inches of rain as the system passes.
Landfall is expected between Lafayette, LA and Mobile, AL on Wednesday.
Heavy rainfall will spread north into the Tennessee Valley, Southern Appalachians, and portions of the Mid-Atlantic States near and in advance of Zeta late in the week. The expected rainfall could lead to flash flooding and minor river flooding.