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Increasing flash flood and wind risk Thursday as Zeta arrives

You will need to monitor the forecast closely as severe weather increases late this week
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 3:52 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2020 at 9:28 PM EDT
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A mix of sun and clouds expected this afternoon. We’ll notice increasing clouds Wednesday with tropical rain moving in Thursday from the remnants of Zeta. Much cooler weather builds in for the weekend.

LIVE CHAT: A look at our flood, wind and tornado impacts from Zeta

LIVE CHAT: A look at our flood, wind and tornado impacts from Zeta

Posted by WDBJ7 on Tuesday, October 27, 2020

WEDNESDAY

You’ll want to secure the Halloween decorations during the day Wednesday. Most of the day remains dry until after sunset when rain will inch closer. Everyone should see rain falling by midnight as it moves in from the southwest. Afternoon highs will climb to the upper 60s and low 70s.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT

Rain from a warm front will begin to overspread the area after 7 PM and could be heavy at times as it gets pushed along the mountains through around 8 AM Thursday morning. Rainfall around an 1-2″ is possible Wednesday night with locally higher amounts.

Flood wind and rain impacts are expected as the remnants of Zeta move through.
Flood wind and rain impacts are expected as the remnants of Zeta move through.(WDBJ7)

THURSDAY

Additional heavy rain is expected as remnants from Zeta move in by late Thursday morning. Models have most areas getting soaked by lunchtime and rain lingering through around sunset before tapering off. While heavy rain and flooding remains the greatest concern, strong wind and even an isolated tornado can’t be ruled out.

LOCAL IMPACTS FROM ZETA

While the tropical system is moving very quickly, there are several factors which may mean it could drop VERY heavy rainfall in a short window of time. 1) Mountains will help squeeze out the rain. 2) We have had plenty of frequent rain events over the past few weeks that have kept tributaries running around average. 3) The trees are shutting down for the season and are absorbing less water, so runoff occurs quicker.

RAINFALL RISK: Most models are suggesting between 1-3 inches of rain is likely Thursday with locally higher amounts. The flood risk increases greatly with the second round of rain Thursday.

HIGH WIND RISK: Strong winds are expected as Zeta remnants blow through between Noon and 6pm Thursday. Strong winds 40-50 mph aloft pose a wind damage threat, especially factoring in the fact the ground will already be saturated. Any damaging wind would be localized but the strongest would likely be along and east of the Blue Ridge Parkway toward the Southside.

TORNADO RISK: While not a high/widespread tornado threat, shear provided by Zeta will bring an elevated risk of a tornado from any rotating, supercell storms, mainly east of the Blue Ridge and across the Southside.

The rain and severe threat will quickly move out around sunset Thursday leading to slow clearing and breezy conditions late. Skies will gradually clear during the night.

FRIDAY - SATURDAY - SUNDAY

The tropical system should be long gone by the weekend with improvements as early as Friday. The cold front will however usher in much cooler air for the Halloween weekend. Highs only reach the upper 50s to low 60s in the east. Lows will be in 40s.

Much cooler air moves in as we head into the weekend.
Much cooler air moves in as we head into the weekend.(WDBJ)

TURN CLOCKS BACK OCTOBER 31: Remember to set your clocks back one hour (fall back) before bedtime Saturday as we switch back to Eastern Standard Time. It’s also a good idea to check the smoke detector and weather radio batteries.

The Martinsville race is looking sunny, but chilly.
The Martinsville race is looking sunny, but chilly.(WDBJ)