Zeta made landfall late Wednesday afternoon near Cocodrie, Louisiana as a strong Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 110 mph, just shy of a major hurricane. Zeta will gradually weaken as it rapidly moves northeastward tonight but could bring some impacts to the Palmetto State Thursday.
The storm will continue to weaken but will accelerate as it crosses the Deep South overnight Wednesday and move up the crest of the Appalachian Mountains on Thursday. The storm’s fast forward motion is expected to spread tropical storm-force wind gusts well inland over parts of the Southeast. Wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph are likely in many areas along and northwest of I-20 between 6 am and noon Thursday. These winds are capable of producing power disruptions to areas far away from the coast. A Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for parts of the Upstate and northwestern Midlands ahead of Zeta, where strong winds and rainfall are expected to arrive in the hours preceding dawn Thursday.
The potential for excessive rainfall will be greatest in the Upstate region in and around the mountains, while the severe threat will be highest in Piedmont areas, according to the National Weather Service Greensville-Spartanburg. Pockets of flash flooding are possible, but the quick movement of the storm should limit total rainfall amounts to around 2 to 4 inches, mainly around the Upstate region. Flash Flood Watches have been issued in the mountains of South Carolina west of Interstate 85.
A cold front behind Zeta may bring another round of scattered showers and thunderstorms statewide Thursday afternoon. A marginal risk of severe weather is in place for most of South Carolina. A few storms have the potential to produce isolated tornadoes, strong winds, and heavy rainfall. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to move offshore shortly after sunset Thursday as the cold front moves into the Atlantic waters.
Zeta is the eleventh named storm to impact the continental United States and the eighth cyclone to hit the Gulf Coast this year. Hurricane season continues through the month of November and meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center have outlined another area for potential development in the western Caribbean Sea. A low chance of development is forecast over the next five days.