Tropical Cyclone Zeta is set to make landfall across the central Gulf Coast of the United States Wednesday Evening, bringing with it wide ranging impacts from the coast to here in the two Virginias. Zeta is expected to weaken as it approaches the Mid-Atlantic states but it will still bring with it strong tropical moisture and the potential for flooding. Here’s the latest on what to expect from the StormTracker 59 Weather Lab:
Zeta is forecast to make landfall as a category one hurricane along the central Gulf Coast during the evening hours of Wednesday and the early hours of Thursday. The Gulf Coast and points inland are expected to see impacts well before landfall as the outer bands of Zeta are set to interact with an developing low pressure system sliding out of the Central U.S.
The outer bands of rain begin to move into the two Virginias Wednesday evening likely after the evening commute. Rain will likely fall steadily more or less past this point into the over night hours, heavier showers will be mixed in to the bands of rain so conditions will be varied over even a small area. NOTE: Severe Thunderstorms are NOT expected at this time!
The outer bands of rain from Zeta will continue to rotate through the two Virginias throughout the morning. Travel will be difficult during the morning commute as pooling and ponding of water on the roadways will be a persistent issue. Like Wednesday night there will also be heavier pockets of rain mixed into these bands of rain which means conditions could change quickly as you’re driving or even just sitting at home.
Throughout Thursday our paramount concern is the potential for flooding as rounds of heavy rain push through over the 24 hour period. The mountains are of primary concern as likely the higher elevations along the eastern face of the mountains will see some enhanced rainfall totals. We have at least a small flood risk for all counties in our viewing area for Thursday, with a chance that this could be upgraded to a medium flood risk.
In addition to the rain, gusty winds will also be around throughout the day. Gusts will likely top out at or greater than 30mph. We’ll have to watch young trees in the wet ground as well as for the chance of a few branches to break off of older and weaker trees. Since we are in an area with very complex terrain especially as you head into the more mountainous east, we could see terrain channeling of winds which could lead to some stronger wind gusts in certain areas.
The evening commute while looking drier as Zeta’s remnants begin to speed off to the northeast, will likely still not be the easiest ride. Some pockets of rain will still remain, and the roads will already be wet from the heavy rain that passed through earlier. Standing water that pooled and ponded earlier will also likely still be present especially in areas of poorer drainage.
By Friday we only see the lingering remains of Zeta’s moisture sparking showers along the mountains through the morning hours. In total most of us should expect to see one to three inches of rain, with some localized areas topping out over three inches.
The winds will begin to die down as early as the first few hours of Friday, but you should still expect some breezy conditions throughout the daytime. That’s as in the wake of Zeta’s exit, colder air is going to be rushing in Friday. Highs will only be topping out into the upper 40s and low 50s, and lows will be tanking into the upper 20s and low 30s into Saturday Morning.