By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Hurricane Zeta left Louisiana late Wednesday as a fast-moving tropical storm heading through Mississippi toward Atlanta and the mid-Atlantic states.
As of 5 a.m. ET Thursday, Zeta’s center was near the state line in northern Alabama and Georgia, about 65 miles to the west of the Metro Atlanta area, lashing parts of both states with sustained winds of 60 mph and gusts over 70 mph, CNN said.
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Zeta left Louisiana with at least one fatality, 77% of homes without power, and 200 “tree emergencies,” the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. Zeta’s 100-mph winds “brought down tree limbs, street signs and even a couple of buildings that were reported collapsed — one resulting in an injury at a fallen apartment complex.”
A 55-Year-Old Man Died When He Was Electrocuted by a Low-Hanging Power Line
According to the Times-Picayune, a 55-year-old man died when he was electrocuted by a low-hanging power line that officials knew of soon after the storm rolled through New Orleans. In Biloxi, Mississippi, Police Chief John Miller told CNN affiliate WLOX that a body was found on the Broadwater Marina, and that the death was considered storm-related.
Forecasters tracking what was a Category 1 storm on Tuesday evening acknowledge they were caught by surprise when a near Category 3 hurricane roared on shore and across the state on Wednesday. The change in intensity was caused by “a lack of wind shear over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico,” National Weather Service forecaster Lauren Nash told the Times-Picayune.
She explained that conditions in the Gulf were much more favorable for the storm to grow than anticipated. “We didn’t have as much shear in the atmosphere, and that’s usually what we thought would weaken it a little bit,” Nash said.
Barry Keim, a Louisiana State University professor and the state climatologist, said although tracking forecasts have improved in the past 30 years, intensity forecasts haven’t kept up.
“They nailed the track. It was really an impressive track forecast,” he said. “The intensity forecast – not so great. But this has been the bane of our existence forever. We’re just not that good at this, yet,” he admitted.
More than 32 million people are under tropical storm warnings from Georgia to the mid-Atlantic Thursday. The Washington, D.C., metro area is in the path of the storm, which is expected to blow out to sea over New England by early Friday morning.
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