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Hurricane Warning for NOLA    10/27 06:31


   CANCUN, Mexico (AP) -- Storm-weary Louisiana is once again under a hurricane 
warning, with Zeta leaving Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on a path that could hit 
New Orleans Wednesday night.

   Zeta, the 27th named storm in a very busy Atlantic season, made landfall as 
a hurricane just north of the ancient Mayan city of Tulum with maximum 
sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph). It weakened to a tropical storm as it 
crossed over land, but it was expected to regain its strength over the Gulf of 

   Zeta's top winds were 70 mph (110 kmh) early Tuesday, centered about 560 
miles (905 kmh) south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. If Zeta makes 
landfall in Louisiana, it will be the fifth named storm to hit the state this 
year, joining Cristobal, Laura, Marco and Delta.

   Zeta was still drenching the northern Yucatan as its center moved over the 
water. Quintana Roo state Gov. Carlos Joaqun warned that "nobody should be on 
the streets ... you shouldn't go out anymore" until the storm passed.

   In Playa del Carmen, between Tulum and Cancun, Mexican tourist Elsa Mrquez 
held up her beach towel Monday so it flapped in the wind, rattling with the 
strong gusts Monday a few hours before Zeta's arrival.

   "This is our first experience (in a hurricane) and the truth is we are a 
little afraid because we don't know what will happen, but here we are," said 
Mrquez, who was visiting the resort from the north-central state of Queretaro.

   Another tourist, Mario Ortiz Rosas from the western state of Michoacan, 
looked at the rising waves, noting: "I didn't plan for this, but it looks like 
it is going to get complicated."

   Some boats that normally carry tourists in Cancun took refuge in a nearby 
lagoon channel, anchored among the mangroves to avoid the battering wind, waves 
and storm surge. Boat captain Francisco Sosa Rosado noted they had to perform 
the same maneuver barely three week ago, when the area was hit by a stronger 
Hurricane Delta, which made landfall with top winds of 110 mph (175 kph).

   "With Delta, the gusts of wind were very strong ... the anchor lines were at 
risk of breaking," Sosa Rosado said. "I hope it won't be as bad with this 

   Trees felled by Delta littered parts of Cancun, stacked along roadsides and 
in parks and there was concern they could become projectiles when Zeta blew 
through. A number of stoplights around the vacation destination remained 
unrepaired since Delta.

   Quintana Roo state officials reported nearly 60,000 tourists in the state as 
of midweek. They said 71 shelters were readied for tourists or residents who 
might need them, though the governor said he hoped it would not be necessary to 
move guests out of their hotels.

   Zeta broke the record for the previous earliest 27th Atlantic named storm 
that formed Nov. 29, 2005. It's also the 11th hurricane of the season. An 
average season sees six hurricanes and 12 named storms.

   There have been so many storms this season that the hurricane center had to 
turn to the Greek alphabet after running out of assigned names.

   Zeta is the furthest into the Greek alphabet the Atlantic season has gone. 
There was also a Tropical Storm Zeta in 2005, but that year had 28 storms 
because meteorologists later went back and found they missed one, which then 
became an "unnamed named storm."

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