A tropical depression gained power south of Cuba to become tropical storm Zeta on Sunday as it travelled north into the Gulf of Mexico, where it’s poised to become the record 11th storm to hit the US in a single year.
The tropical storm had winds of 40 miles (65 kilometres) per hour as it moved northwest about 250 miles south of Cuba’s western tip, the US National Hurricane Center said in an advisory at 2 am New York time. A turn to the northwest and increase in forward speed are forecast by Monday, it said. On its current track, which is subject to change, it could brush the edge of the offshore oil and natural gas fields near Louisiana that have seen numerous shut-ins this season.
“Slow strengthening is forecast during the next 72 hours, and the system is expected to become a tropical storm on Sunday and could become a hurricane over the southwest Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday,” Eric Blake, a senior hurricane specialist at the center, said.
So many storms have formed this year that the hurricane center has run out of official names and has started using Greek letters to designate systems.