CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The 27th named tropical cyclone of the historic 2020 hurricane season made landfall as a category two storm - packing 110 mph winds - along the Louisiana coast last evening and has quickly carved a path up through Alabama and Georgia overnight.
Today, the Carolinas will get the brunt of what’s left.
Zeta’s remnant low will track northeast through the mountains of North Carolina this morning before pushing up into central Virginia this afternoon. On this track a myriad of weather is in our forecast!
The biggest concern will be very strong winds that will likely topple trees and bring down power lines as we go through the day.
The National Weather Service has issued a Tropical Storm Warning for much of the WBTV viewing area, including all counties along and north/west of I-85. The warning - a rare event this far away from the coast - runs through the day. Winds could gust to near 50 mph in the warned area, starting this morning in the southern foothills and Piedmont before backing down this afternoon in neighborhoods north/east of Charlotte.
To the south/east of I-85, a Wind Advisory is in effect until late today. This includes Union, Anson, Stanly and Richmond counties in North Carolina and Chester, Lancaster and Chesterfield counties in South Carolina. Wind gusts here could top out near 40 mph today, if not briefly higher.
The wind gusts referenced above are outside of any severe thunderstorms that may develop - and even spawn an isolated tornado or two - along and east of the center of circulation. The primary threat for this would be across the Piedmont.
Additionally, a Flash Flood Watch has been posted for the mountains and northern foothills through the early afternoon hours. Including rain that fell in advance of Zeta Wednesday, generally, two to four inches of rain – in total - is expected in the warned area, though a few locales could receive more, prompting the flash flood concern.
The ground is already saturated from recent rains - in another very wet year - so it won’t take much for flooding to develop.
Schools in the area have opted for virtual learning Thursday as a result of anticipated impacts from Zeta. Click here for a full list of those schools.
The heaviest rain is likely to fall along and just to the east of the storm center, and so there will be a sharp gradient across the WBTV viewing area. Outside of the flash flood watch area, such as around Charlotte, amounts will be significantly pared back. In fact, the far eastern counties in our viewing area - in the Pee Dee River Valley - may not get much rain at all.
As Zeta lifts into Virginia this afternoon, the winds will gradually back down, the rain will shut off and the sun may even pop out. In fact, many neighborhoods around Charlotte could top out close to 80 this afternoon. Even so, there may still be a few parting thundershowers through this evening as a cool front behind Zeta blows through.
Post-Zeta, very cool and dry weather is expected for Friday and much of the Halloween weekend.
Afternoon readings Friday will run into the seasonal middle 60s before we back down closer to 60° over the weekend with cold nighttime temperatures dipping down into the 40s. There will be a very small shower chance late in the weekend, as a reinforcing cold front blows through, setting the stage for a very chilly Monday in the 50s with the first real threat for widespread frosty 30s coming Monday night.
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- Meteorologist Al Conklin