Tropical Storm Zeta was the twenty-eighth named storm of the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, forming on December 31, 2005, well after the official end of a hurricane season in the Atlantic. Zeta was the final storm of the 2005 season, setting a record for 28 named storms to form in the Atlantic basin in a single season. This also surpassed the Pacific Ocean's record activity in 1992, where 24 storms formed. Zeta was also unique in that it lasted up to January 6, 2006 as a tropical cyclone. The only other hurricane on record in the Atlantic basin to do this was Hurricane Alice in 1954, which lasted from December 1954 into January 1955.

Zeta caused no damage and no reported deaths, as it stayed well away from land throughout its lifetime. Zeta dissipated on January 6. Zeta is only the second tropical cyclone in the Atlantic basin to last into two calender years.

Tropical Storm Zeta on January 4
Formation December 29, 2005
Dissipation January 6, 2006
Highest winds 65 mph
Lowest pressure 994 mbar
Deaths None reported
Damages None
Areas affected No land areas

Meteorological History

Late on December 29, 2005, a tropical depression formed in the east-central Atlantic Ocean from a frontal trough, becoming Tropical Storm Zeta early the next day. Since this was more than 4 weeks after the official end of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center operationally did not notice the system until after it had become a tropical storm. Initially, Zeta moved to the northwest, but stalled late on December 31 before heading westward through the open Atlantic Ocean, during which time it gradually strengthened to reach 60 mph winds. As with the previous storm of the season, Hurricane Epsilon, the National Hurricane Center had continously forecast that Zeta would weaken due to high upper-level wind shear, but, like Epsilon before it, Zeta maintained its strength, although it did not become a hurricane as Epsilon did. On January 2, Zeta weakened slightly, before it intensified even further to reach its peak winds of 65 mph. One model predicted that Zeta could intensify further and become a hurricane, but this didn't happen.

Zeta continued to defy forecasts of weakening, and on January 4, increasing frustration led forecaster Dr. Lixion Avila to say that he had "run out of things to say". The high wind shear finally took its toll on Zeta on January 4, and Zeta's convection began to diminish, and Zeta weakened to a minimal tropical storm. The NHC continued to overestimate how quickly Zeta would dissipate, and early on January 5, Zeta was downgraded to a tropical depression, which was later, to nobody's surprise, found to be an error, meaning it did not fall to tropical depression strength during that time. Zeta continued to move west-northwest at this point, barely holding onto tropical storm strength before becoming disorganized. On January 6, Zeta weakened to a tropical depression and dissipated into a remnant low later that day, finally putting an end to the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. The remnant low maintained its identity for another day before it dissipated while located 660 miles southeast of Bermuda on January 7.


Some of the crews that were participating in the 2005 Atlantic Rowing Race were battered by rough seas, as well as strong adverse winds from Tropical Storm Zeta. The ship Libery star made several reports on the storm, including one report of 40 mph sustained winds when the ship was located about 45 miles north of the center of Zeta early on December 31.

Since Zeta never threatened land, no coastal watches or warnings were issued. Also, Zeta caused no damage, and no fatalities.

Naming and Records

When Tropical Storm Zeta formed at 0600 UTC on December 31, it became the second latest-forming tropical cyclone on record in the Atlantic basin, forming about six hours earlier than Hurricane Alice did in 1954. Zeta is also only the second tropical cyclone on record in the Atlantic basin to last into two calender years, with Alice being the first. The formation of Zeta also extended the amount of storms to 28 for the 2005 season, breaking the previous record of 21 storms set by the 1933 Atlantic hurricane season by a whopping 7 storms. Finally, Zeta was the only Atlantic tropical cyclone to be a given a name with a "Z", since the regular list of Atlantic hurricane names don't have a "Z" letter.

See Also

2005 Atlantic hurricane season