Zeta to bring strong winds, heavy rain to Gulf Coast and North Alabama this week


Tropical Storm Zeta continues to swirl in the Caribbean as of Sunday evening, and while it’s movement is little to none for the short term, it is forecast to pick up steam and quickly approach the Gulf Coast by mid-week.

Zeta wind gust impacts

As Zeta approaches the coastline of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, strong winds will also impact areas located to the right of the tropical system’s center.

Wind gusts as high as 40-60 mph are possible from Destin to Mobile through Wednesday evening, and 30-40 mph wind gusts are possible from New Orleans to Gulf Port at the time of landfall. Power outages as well as tree and structural damage is likely along the Gulf Coast.

Just a short amount of time later (approximately 4-5 hours), the center of Zeta is expected to be near Montgomery, where wind gusts as high as 50-60 mph are possible. Further north in the Tennessee Valley, wind gusts of 30-40 mph are possible through Thursday afternoon.

Quick moving Zeta will bring rain, but limited flooding

Heavy rain is likely but it will be limited in duration due to Zeta’s quick speed through the Gulf Coast into the inland areas of the Southeast.

The heaviest rainfall is expected east of the system’s center of circulation, with a stripe of 3-4 inch rainfall totals expected from Mobile to Montgomery through Atlanta and Anderson, South Carolina.

In north Alabama, a rainfall gradient is expected: The heaviest rain will occur along the I-59 corridor along Lookout and Sand Mountains, with less rainfall further west along I-65. The Shoals may only pick up 0.25″ to 0.50″ of rainfall from Zeta.

Is Zeta a severe weather threat?

The right-hand side of a landfalling tropical system tends to bring the threat of severe weather due to damaging winds and tornadoes embedded within the rain bands.

As of Sunday night, it appears that Zeta’s center of circulation will track well south of the Tennessee Valley, which means the threat of severe weather in North Alabama will be little to none.

However, this is a changing forecast situation, and it is important to check in periodically for any changes in the forecast track. If Zeta’s path moves more north and northwest, then North Alabama would need to be on alert for potential severe weather.

Monitor the latest track of Tropical Storm Zeta using the interactive tracker below.

~ Christina

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