BECKLEY, WV (WVNS-TV) — Hurricane Zeta is set to make landfall across the central Gulf Coast of the United States Wednesday evening as a category 1 hurricane. Zeta is expected to bring wide ranging impacts from the Gulf 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 1 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 already pushing into the interior United States.
In the Virginias we see impacts beginning as early as 6 to 8pm tonight as an outer band of Zeta interacts with a stalled frontal boundary to our south. This stalled boundary will be present for the duration of the event and will likely contribute to enhanced rainfall across parts of the viewing area. Rain will gradually pick up in intensity as Wednesday night continues, a small risk of flooding exists for Wednesday night particularly for areas of poor drainage and known flood prone regions.
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 southern and eastern faces of the mountains will see enhanced rainfall totals. A medium risk of flooding exists for almost everyone throughout the entirety of Thursday! We will be watching smaller creeks and streams closely tomorrow.
An important point to make as well is that many drains are likely clogged with fallen leaves and other debris. These drains have to be cleared before the rain begins to fall to avoid any unnecessary flooding from happening. This is one simple and easy thing YOU can do to prepare.
In addition to the rain, gusty winds will also be around throughout the day. Gusts will likely top out in the 30 to 40 mph range, with the strongest winds focused along the West Virginia, Virginia border. 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, this 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.
If there is any lingering moisture laying around as temperatures drop off into Friday night a few upslope snow showers could be possible through the higher elevations of Fayette, Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties.