(Bloomberg) -- Hurricane Zeta is walloping New Orleans with the most powerful winds since Katrina devastated the city in 2005, blacking out tens of thousands of homes and businesses, knocking out traffic lights and triggering voluntary evacuations.Zeta made landfall near Cocodrie, Louisiana, with winds of 110 miles (177 kilometers) per hour, before weakening slightly to 100 mph, according to an advisory. The category 2 storm is the fifth hurricane or tropical storm to hit the state this year, the National Hurricane Center said. Never before have so many major storms smashed into Louisiana or the contiguous U.S. in a single season, according to Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher with Colorado State University.While Zeta isn’t as powerful as Katrina, it is running directly over the Crescent City, bringing the harshest winds in 15 years. By moving at a brisk 25 miles an hour, it could pass over quickly enough to spare New Orleans catastrophic flooding even as it claimed its first victim by electrocution on Wednesday. Damages may still total as much as $5 billion.“This is going to be one of the worst hurricanes to hit New Orleans proper since Katrina,” said Jim Rouiller, chief meteorologist at Energy Weather Group LLC.Zeta is the latest in a grim parade of natural disasters to hit the U.S. in recent months as climate change makes weather increasingly extreme. In California, heat waves, drought and violent winds have combined to fuel a rash of wildfires that have burned a record 4.1 acres this year. And along the East and Gulf coasts, a record 11 named storms have hit the U.S.In all, 27 storms have formed across the Atlantic in 2020. So many systems have formed this season that the National Hurricane Center has used up all its official titles and has resorted to the Greek alphabet to designate new ones.The eye of the storm was moving into New Orleans by about 7 p.m. New York time, the city’s emergency response agency said on Twitter. More than 280,000 homes and businesses across Louisiana lost power within hours. The electrical failures knocked out traffic lights, and government officials warned residents to stay off the roads.Zeta becomes only one of six storms to hit the U.S. this late in October and the first hurricane to do so since 1985, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connection. While Sandy was a powerful storm when it came ashore in New Jersey in 2012, it had lost its hurricane characteristics when it struck land.Rapid IntensificationZeta grew in strength as it moved across the Gulf, and all told this year six storms have rapidly intensified -- short of a record, but indicative of climate change.“There have been a lot of rapidly intensifying storms and that is something we expect to see in a warming climate,” Masters said.Zeta may cause as much as $5 billion in damages and losses, said Chuck Watson, a damage modeler at Enki Research, who raised his estimate from an initial $1 billion as the forecast worsened. The storm’s stronger winds bring more dynamic pressure on everything it hits, and there are simply more targets in the way the closer to New Orleans it gets.While the intensity and number of storms has surpassed the 12 that usually form in an average season, there is no indication things will stop as October ends and November begins.A potential storm could form in the Caribbean Sea within the next week, which would be called Eta. This would be the 28th storm and tie a record with 2005 for the most in a single year.Not Done YetThere might even be more. A global weather pattern called the Madden Julian Oscillation that’s about to exert its influence on the Atlantic may spark a spate of storms. The Atlantic is still warm enough to spin up hurricanes and there are still plenty of tropical waves, the building blocks of hurricanes, emanating from Africa, Masters said.In addition, autumn cold fronts moving off North America often swirl into tropical storms.“I suspect we will see one or two of those this year,” Masters said. “Thirty storms are possible.”(Updates with latest wind speed and casualty in 2nd, 3rd paragraphs.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.