Hurricane Zeta made landfall along the Louisiana coast yesterday but is currently racing through the Mid Atlantic today as a Post-Tropical Storm; by 8pm tonight, it’ll be east of the Jersey shore; by 8am tomorrow, it’ll be south of Nova Scotia, Canada. While the storm is producing flooding rains and damaging winds over portions of the eastern United States, it will likely dump the first accumulating snow over portions of the northeast as it exits the coast.
As of the 2pm advisory from the National Hurricane Center, the center of Zeta was located roughly 25 miles south-southeast of Charlottesville, Virginia and about 50 miles west-northwest of Richmond, Virginia. With maximum sustained winds of 50 mph, the potent storm was racing to the east-northeast at 53 mph. The minimum central pressure is only 992 mb or 29.29 inches.
According to the National Hurricane Center, an even faster motion toward the east-northeast is expected tonight and on Friday. On the forecast track, the center of Zeta will continue to move across Virginia this afternoon, and emerge over the western Atlantic by this evening. While maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph with higher gusts now, some strengthening is forecast once Zeta moves over the western Atlantic beyond the Jersey Shore. The cyclone should become absorbed by a frontal system by tomorrow night.
The wind field around Zeta is substantial. Tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 275 miles mainly to the southeast of the center. A sustained wind of 51 mph and a gust to 72 mph were recently reported at a station in Conway, North Carolina, to the east of Roanoke Rapids.
Damaging winds, especially in gusts, will continue to spread across portions of eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia through this evening.
Areas of heavy rainfall, both in advance of Zeta and along the track of Zeta, will impact areas from the central Appalachians, Mid-Atlantic and lower to middle Ohio Valley through Thursday. Rainfall totals of 1 to 3 inches are expected across these areas, resulting in possible flash, urban, small stream, and isolated minor river flooding.
In addition to the damaging wind and flooding rain threat, a tornado or two is possible this afternoon across the Carolinas and southern Virginia.
As the storm system exits the coast, enough cold air will be pulled down behind the system to change rain to snow over portions of the northeast. While recent relatively mild and wet conditions will prevent much in the way of accumulations, a light accumulation of 1-3″ is possible over portions of interior southern New England. An isolated pocket or two of 3-6″ amounts is also possible on the highest peaks of southern and central New England’s mountains.