As of 7 a.m. Monday, the center of Tropical Storm Zeta was moving toward the northwest at about 9 mph.
Observations from a NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft indicate that maximum sustained winds are near 70 mph with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast, and Zeta is expected to become a hurricane later this morning.
Additional strengthening is expected before Zeta moves over the Yucatan Peninsula. Tropical-storm-force winds currently extend outward up to 115 miles from the center.
A northwestward motion with an increase in forward speed is expected over the next day or so, followed by a turn toward the north Tuesday night. A faster northward to north-northeastward motion is forecast on Wednesday.
On the forecast track, the center of Zeta will move near or over the northern Yucatan Peninsula later today or tonight, move over the southern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, and approach the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday.
Hurricane watches will likely be required for a portion of the northern Gulf Coast later today.