Hurricane Zeta made landfall Wednesday evening near Cocodrie in southeastern Louisiana as a Category 2 storm, tearing into coastal communities with heavy rain and wind, killing one and leaving hundreds of thousands without power.
After slamming into the coast with winds exceeding 100 mph, it tore its way inland, heading north-northeast at about 25 mph, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday evening.
New Orleans authorities reported at least one death after someone was electrocuted near a downed power line, and they urged residents to remain indoors.
Photos show Zeta left flooding, fallen trees and other damage in its wake.
Almost immediately after its landfall around 4 p.m. CDT, authorities began reporting widespead power outages in coastal communities like New Orleans.
Louisiana had more than 550,000 outages statewide as of 8:30 p.m., according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks blackouts across the country. Mississippi had over 175,000.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards also said state officials were monitoring the hurricane's potential effect on voting sites with less than a week remaining until Election Day.
Brennan Matherne, a public information office with the Lafourche Sheriff's Office, tweeted out video showing a large boat washed onto the road in Golden Meadow.
Another Twitter user, photographer Adam Ney, shared video that appeared to show siding from a double-wide trailer whipping across a road in Plaquemines Parish, just southeast of New Orleans.
Reports of flooding also emerged along the coastline, and videos on social media showed roadways under water as the storm tore through.
Storm surge warnings were in effect from the mouth of the Atchafalaya River to Navarre, Fla., and in Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain, Pensacola Bay and Mobile Bay. Surges in some areas could reach as high as 9 feet.
Hurricane warnings were in effect from Morgan City, La., to the Mississippi-Alabama border, and included the New Orleans metropolitan area as well as Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas. Tropical storm warnings were in effect from the Mississippi-Alabama border to the border between Walton and Bay counties in Florida.
Strong winds were expected to threaten areas even farther inland.The greatest risk of tornadoes is expected through Wednesday night in southeastern parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the western Panhandle of Florida.
Winds will reach across the Southeast, and tropical storm warnings were issued for areas as far away as the north Georgia mountains, which typically don't see such weather.
"Wind gusts could be especially severe across the southern Appalachian Mountains on Thursday," the NHC said.
The storm is expected to weaken over the southeastern states Thursday as it moves onward.
Zeta already had produced locally heavy rains ahead of the storm, but more downpours can be expected as the storm churns through. Between 2 to 4 inches of rain, with isolated amounts of up to 6 inches are possible from the central Gulf Coast through the Mid-Atlantic Thursday. But the storm's rapid movement could help reduce flooding, forecasters said.
The storm's landfall in Louisiana marks the fifth so far this busy 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. The state has been hit by two tropical storms and two hurricanes this year: Laura, blamed for at least 27 Louisiana deaths after it struck in August, and Delta, which exacerbated Laura’s damage in the same area just weeks later.
Days before the storm arrived, New Orleans officials said a power generator for the city’s drainage pump system had broken down – and they’d be unable to repair it in time for the storm, forcing them to resort to a backup power system.
Fox News' Brandon Noriega and the Associated Press contributed to this report.