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Overview and Changes from previous forecast:
Zeta has strengthened overnight to a Category 1 Hurricane and is still expected to move northward across the northern Gulf Coast today and make a landfall along the southeast Louisiana coast this evening. The center of Zeta is then expected to weaken and move northeastward across portions of west central and north Georgia tonight into Thursday morning.
The Tropical Storm Watch has been expanded slightly southeastward for portions of northern Georgia and slightly higher wind gusts up to 50 mph are possible. The watch is still in effect through midday Thursday.
The Flash Flood Watch area has not changed from yesterday evening and is still in effect from this morning through Thursday evening.
Main points / Impacts (for north & central GA):
· Heavy Rain / Flood Threat
o A Flash Flood Watch remains in effect as periods of heavy rainfall are expected across portions of northern and western Georgia, generally along and north of the I-85 corridor, today into Thursday. Widespread 2" to 4" with locally higher amounts will be possible for those within the Flash Flood Watch, especially along and north of the I-85 corridor.
o Portions of north Georgia are also in a Marginal to Slight Risk of Excessive Rainfall for late today into early Thursday then lingering Marginal Risk in the far north, as seen in the graphics that follow.
o With already saturated grounds from previous rainfall, periods of heavy rainfall may lead to localized flash flooding as well as flooding of rivers and streams. In addition, with trees already losing leaves, drains may become easily clogged in periods of rainfall, exacerbating the flooding of low-lying areas.
· Gusty Winds / Strong Storm Threat --
o A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for portions of north and west central Georgia through midday Thursday as sustained winds 25-35 mph with gusty winds up to 50 MPH will be possible as Zeta crosses the area later tonight into Thursday. Gusty winds will also be possible in stronger showers/embedded thunderstorms and in the higher elevations.
o With this current track forecast, weak, short-lived tornadoes will be possible across portions of central Georgia late tonight into Thursday. (See graphics below). However, widespread severe storms are not expected at this time and the threat will continue to be evaluated as the storm approaches.
o Due to already saturated soils, trees and powerlines may be easily downed.
· Some uncertainty still exists with this storm, both in timing and location as it moves through the Gulf states.
· We will continue to send email updates as the forecast evolves and becomes more certain. In between these updates feel free to refer to the National Hurricane Center [nhc.noaa.gov] for more details.