Zeta nears landfall at Category 2 strength as multiple NC counties face Tropical Storm Watches

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Multiple North Carolina counties are under a Tropical Storm Watch as the state prepares for impacts from Hurricane Zeta.

Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for Gaston, Catawba, Lincoln, Cleveland, Rutherford and Polk counties.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center says Zeta was about 145 miles southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 155 south-southwest of New Orleans. The storm is moving north-northeast at 28 mph.

Maximum wind speeds clocked in at 100 mph, making Zeta a Category 2 hurricane.

Already the NHC says conditions are deteriorating along parts of the northern Gulf Coast.

“Life-threatening storm surge and damaging winds likely in the warning areas later today,” the NHC said.

Forecasters expect the storm to pick up pace as it moves north and makes landfall in southern Louisiana Wednesday afternoon.

“Zeta is expected to reach the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane before weakening over the southeastern United States on Thursday,” the hurricane center said.

On Thursday, the storm is expected to move even faster towards the northeast as it crosses the southeastern and eastern United States.

Kate Garner of the FOX8 Max Weather Center said that heavy rain is likely at times, mainly in the foothills. Flooding is more likely in the mountains and foothills, but there is a low risk for the Triad.

“A cold front will move through tomorrow night and could bring strong/severe storms with it,” Garner said. “We are currently under a Level 1 Marginal Risk for storm severity.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for:

* Mouth of the Atchafalaya River to Navarre Florida
* Lake Borgne, Lake Pontchartrain, Pensacola Bay and Mobile Bay

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for:

* Morgan City Louisiana to the Mississippi/Alabama border
* Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Maurepas, and Metropolitan New Orleans

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for:

* Mississippi/Alabama border to Walton/Bay County Line Florida

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