Hurricane Zeta will trek northward across the southeastern United States over the next several days, and is expected to bring several inches of rain to Scott County and the northern Cumberland Plateau in the process.
Rain chances will begin to increase locally on Wednesday, with the heaviest rains moving in Wednesday night into early Thursday. One leading weather model projects about 3.5 inches of rainfall for the northern Cumberland Plateau before rain showers begin to taper off Thursday afternoon. The exact amount of precipitation that will occur will depend on the exact placement of the storm’s remnants, and an earlier version of the same model projected nearly five inches of rain between Wednesday afternoon and late in the day on Thursday.
The National Weather Service is currently forecasting a 100% chance of rain in Oneida and Scott County Wednesday afternoon, with a 90% chance of rain Wednesday night and Thursday, tapering off to 40% Thursday night.
In a forecast discussion posted Tuesday afternoon by the NWS’s Morristown weather forecast office, meteorologists said that rain totals would likely be around 2.5 inches to 3 inches for the Cumberland Plateau region.
To the west, the NWS’s Nashville weather forecast office posted a Hydrologic Outlook for Fentress County and the rest of Middle Tennessee, saying some areas could see more than three inches of rain before the heavy rain moves out of the region on Thursday.
Hurricane Zeta was still located far to the south of the U.S. Gulf Coast on Tuesday evening, located just north of the Yucatan Peninsula with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. The storm is expected to trek quickly across the Gulf of Mexico, making landfall Wednesday afternoon along the Louisiana coast before curving northeast through parts of Alabama and Georgia. Its current track takes the storm’s remnants along the Smoky Mountains as a tropical depression during the day on Thursday.
The good news, for Scott County and the northern Cumberland Plateau, is that the current track will leave this region on the northwest side of the remnant tropical depression. That would mean lesser wind gusts than were previously expected, which would mean some of the fall foliage that has just reached its peak might survive the storm. However, the forecast still calls for wind gusts up to 20 mph Thursday night.