The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Zeta will enter the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday morning after hitting the Yucatan Peninsula.
"On the forecast track, the center of Zeta will move...
over the southern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, and approach the northern Gulf Coast in the watch area on Wednesday."
Federal forecasters say Zeta will still be a hurricane when it approaches the coast.
WWL TV Chief Meteorologist Chris Franklin says that remains uncertain.
"It is still yet to be determined how the structure of the storm is going to be once it gets into the Gulf after interacting with the Yucatan."
He says dry air, wind shear and cooler waters will all make it challenging for Zeta to maintain its strength.
As of 10:00pm maximum sustained winds were near 80 mph with higher gusts.
The Hurricane Center says, "Zeta is forecast to re-strengthen when it moves over the southern Gulf of Mexico later on Tuesday and be at or near hurricane strength when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday."
A Hurricane Watch is in effect from Morgan City, Louisiana to the Mississippi/Alabama state line including Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Metropolitan New Orleans.
That's where the highest winds are expected.
"An initial area of heavy rains will begin to impact the central Gulf Coast Tuesday night, spreading north into the Tennessee Valley on Wednesday."
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.
Storm surge is expected to flood areas outside of levee protection:
-Port Fourchon LA to Dauphin Island AL including Lake Borgne...4-6 ft
-Intracoastal City LA to Port Fourchon LA including Vermilion Bay...2-4 ft
-Dauphin Island AL to Navarre FL including Mobile Bay and Pensacola Bay...2-4
-Lake Pontchartrain...2-4 ft
-Navarre FL to Yankeetown FL including Choctawhatchee Bay and Saint Andrew Bay...1-3 ft