Zeta sweeps through Carolinas leaving widespread damage, power outages

  • Tropical Storm Warnings in the area expired Thursday afternoon
  • Flash flood warnings were issued for counties in western North Carolina -- many are set to expire early Friday morning
  • By late Thursday afternoon, Zeta rapidly moved off the U.S. coast at 55 mph
  • We broke a record high as temps reached 83 degrees Thursday afternoon
  • Great weather awaits us for Friday and Halloween as much cooler, drier weather returns
  • Winds ended up being the main problem closer to Charlotte, with gusts well over 30 mph and some near 50 mph

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>> We will have team coverage of the storm and its impact in your neighborhood throughout the day on Channel 9. Scroll below for minute-by-minute updates (and CLICK HERE for national coverage of the storm):

October 29 afternoon Zeta updates in the Carolinas

4:44 p.m.

3:35 p.m.

The City of Charlotte says it has gotten about 100 calls for service in response to the storm. Tree crews will be out for the next several days doing cleanup and assessment.

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3 p.m.

An Areal Flood Warning has been issued for Burke and Caldwell County in NC until 7:00pm Thursday.

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2:20 p.m.

York County’s Tropical Storm Warning is cancelled.

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2:15 p.m.

Zeta has gone “post-tropical” but still producing damaging wind gusts. It’s forward speed is up to 53 mph.

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1:45 p.m.

Burke County Board of Elections officials told Channel 9 that the power was out for an hour because of the storm, and they sent 2-3 voters to another early voting location. They are back up and running now.

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1:15 p.m

Zeta has pushed through the Carolinas, but the storm has left a mess in its wake, from downed trees across the area to localized flooding.

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12:05 p.m.

Almost 4,000 customers are without power in Chesterfield County; 6,000 in York County; and less than 1,000 in Lancaster and Chester.

12 p.m.

Albemarle Road is closed at Jamison Place Court because a large tree is blocking the road.

October 29 mid-morning Zeta updates in the Carolinas

11:50 a.m.

A mail carrier avoided injury after a large tree fell onto his truck Thursday morning in a Statesville neighborhood. Viewer James Hogan tweeted images of the damaged mail truck at the intersection of E. Elementary Road and Eastbrook Lane.

11:40 a.m.

There is a power outage at the in-person absentee voting office at the Fort Mill Community Center (formerly Banks Street Gym) at 1011 Talbot Dr. Voting has halted for the moment, though there is a long line outside.

10:25 a.m.

A large tree is blocking all lanes on Sugar Creek Road as you approach The Plaza in east Charlotte.

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10:20 a.m.

Conover Mayor Lee Moritz has declared a State of Emergency for Tropical Storm Zeta. The city is reporting trees down in every community and says the power outages are significant and will last for several days. Conover is requesting statewide mutual aid to begin after the storm passes.

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9:45 a.m.

More reports of trees down are coming in from across the Charlotte area.

  • Wellingford Street and North Tryon Street (partially blocking road)
  • East Sugar Creek and The Plaza (blocking roadway)
  • Milton Road and WT Harris Blvd. (road blocked)
  • 7722 Ritter Drive (limb down on vehicle, vehicle damage)
  • 5510 Birchhill Road, Mint Hill (tree threatening house)
  • 15100 NC Hwy 73, Huntersville (car crashed into downed tree)
  • 19309 Old Statesville Road (tree across roadway)
  • 6400 Catawba Chase Drive, Huntersville (power lines across road)
  • 2411 Roundabout Lane (road blocked)
  • Spring Street, Concord (tree on house)
  • 1300 Charlottetown Avenue (tree down)
  • 404 Jefferson Drive (entire roadway closed)
  • 5200 Galway Drive (roadway blocked)
  • 8301 Parkland Circle (tree down blocking entrance to apartment complex)

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9:40 a.m.

There are reports of numerous trees down across York County this morning.

  • York - CHESTER HWY at PLAZCO Rd. Tree in roadway
  • York - TRAFFIC: Tree reported in the road at N. Congress St. in York. Power lined also reported knocked down because of the tree.
  • York - Large tree reported in the road at Woods Rd. at Lincoln Rd. York. Tree reported blocking lanes.
  • York - Tree reported in the road at Shannon St. at Old Pinkney Rd. Sharon Tree reported blocking both lanes.
  • York - Power line in road at 7500 Charlotte Hwy. Near Kingsbury Rd.
  • York - Tree reported in the road at Cureton Ferry Rd. at Hall Spencer Rd. Catawba. Tree reported blocking both lanes.
  • York - Tree reported in the road at Hwy 557 at Longlea Dr. Clover. Large Tree blocking both lanes.
  • York - Tree reported in the road at Mt. Gallant Rd. at Bowater Rd. Rock Hill. Large Tree blocking both lanes.
  • York - Tree reported in the road at 1600 Block of Devinney Rd. York. Blocking both lanes right at the curve. Slow down and use caution.
  • York - Power line in road at 225 Sleepy Hollow Rd Fort Mil

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9:30 a.m.

More than 100,000 in western North Carolina and more than 155,000 in northern South Carolina are without power as Zeta brings strong winds through midday.

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9:05 a.m.

Winds are now gusting near 50 mph in Charlotte and there are several reports of trees down from the metro to the west.

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8:55 a.m.

The rain was saturating local roads, as reporter Gina Esposito saw first-hand in Charlotte.

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8:45 a.m.

Reports of trees down are coming in from across our area, from the mountains to South Carolina.

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8:30 a.m.

Winds are starting to pick up now. There have been multiple reports of trees down between Burke and Cleveland counties. These winds won’t relax until at least midday or early afternoon.

Also, a Flash Flood Warning has been issued for Ashe and Watauga counties until 3:15 p.m. Significant flooding was also being reported at the Johns River in Burke County.

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8:15 a.m.

Officials in Georgia say high winds from Tropical Storm Zeta have caused a second death in the South.

Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office says a large oak tree uprooted and fell through the corner of a mobile home, killing a man in Acworth. Two other adults and a child were in the home at the time of the incident but weren’t injured.

Acworth is about 32 miles north of Atlanta.

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October 29 morning Zeta updates in the Carolinas

8 a.m.

The strongest wind gusts in the Carolinas are expected to move through during the next 2-4 hours (gusts between 40-60 mph will be possible).

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7:25 a.m.

More power outages are being reported in the mountains, and rain is starting to pick up in the Charlotte metro.

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7:20 a.m.

Nearly 2 million customers were without power across several southern states before dawn Thursday as Tropical Storm Zeta races through the region.

According to the website PowerOutage.us, about 1.8 million were without electricity in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. Georgia has the most with more than 800,000 in the dark.

A fast-moving Zeta weakened to a tropical storm as it barreled northeast Thursday morning after ripping through Louisiana and Mississippi. The storm raged onshore Wednesday afternoon in the small village of Cocodrie in Louisiana as a strong Category 2 and then moved swiftly across the New Orleans area and into neighboring Mississippi, bringing with it both fierce winds and storm surge.

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7:15 a.m.

Reporter Ken Lemon was feeling strong wind gusts in Shelby, with heavy, sporadic rain.

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6:20 a.m.

Duke Energy is working to restore power to 1,600 customers in NoDa after a tree or limb fell, damaging power lines in the area. Power is expected to come back on by 7 a.m.

[Duke Energy crews ready to respond following Hurricane Zeta as remnants of storm arrive in Carolinas]

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6:10 a.m.

Rain will continue to spread in across the area over the next hour, with the heaviest rain falling in the mountains and foothills. The winds may take a bit longer to pick up -- but they will.

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6:05 a.m.

Dave Faherty is reporting live from Caldwell County this morning and says he’s starting to get reports of trees down and power outages. The rain is starting to come down hard in Granite Falls.

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5:55 a.m.

Winds are beginning to pick up across our area, especially west of Charlotte. Duke Energy is reporting close to 2,000 outages in our area.

5:30 a.m.

The Atlanta area is seeing strong wind gusts, and those conditions will be felt closer to Charlotte later this morning.

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4:55 a.m.

Most of the Charlotte area remains under a tropical storm warning this morning -- which is pretty rare.

4:35 a.m.

We’re already seeing power outages in the Carolinas. Currently, 6,008 outages were being reported across North Carolina, with another 128 outages in South Carolina.

4:20 a.m.

A Tropical Storm Warning remains in place across the western portion of our area this morning. Expect conditions to go downhill after 6 a.m., with wind and rain picking up. We haven’t had a tropical storm warning in our area since 2018.

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4 a.m.

A tropical storm warning is in effect in Atlanta as Tropical Storm Zeta makes its way quickly toward the northeast.

Heavy rain accompanied wind speeds of 35-45 mph and gusts of 65 mph early Thursday in the city that has only seen one other tropical storm warning.

Hurricane Irma roared into Florida as a deadly Category 4 hurricane in September 2017 causing widespread threats across the south.

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia, confirmed then that Atlanta — more than 250 miles inland from either the Atlantic or Gulf coasts — was under a tropical storm warning for the first time. Metro Atlanta saw peak winds of 30-40 mph and gusts up to 55 mph.

Tropical storm warnings were issued as far away as southern Virginia, highly unusual for the region. Forecasters issued a string of tornado warnings for as far east as the Florida Panhandle.

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3:45 a.m.

Zeta has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it remains quite strong with winds of 70 mph.

It will likely remain a tropical storm as it zips by the Carolinas early this morning. Since it is moving so fast, the wind will be more of a widespread issue. We’re already seeing reports of multiple trees down west of Atlanta.

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1:30 a.m.

Zeta has weakened into a tropical storm over central Alabama.

The National Hurricane Center says strong winds are continuing over across portions of the state and the Florida panhandle early Thursday.

The storm was about 25 miles south southeast of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. Zeta is moving quickly toward the northeast near 31 mph. The center of the storm will move across portions of the southeastern U.S. Thursday morning, move across the Mid-Atlantic states during the afternoon and over the western Atlantic by the evening. Additional weakening is expected and Zeta should decay into a non-tropical gale-force low later Thursday.

Storm surge warnings were in effect from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Alabama/Florida border.

At least one person was killed as Zeta slammed into the storm-weary Gulf Coast on Wednesday, thrashing the New Orleans metro area with rain and generating winds that ripped apart buildings and knocked out power before making its way through Mississippi and Alabama.

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12:10 a.m.

New Orleans residents are left with a mess of storm debris on roads and lawns, some toppled trees and fences and power outages throughout the area after Hurricane Zeta.

“I don’t remember the last time we had a storm of this magnitude in October,” said Stephanie Becnel, surveying the damage with a flashlight, which mostly consisted of tree debris from the sprawling oaks lining the street outside her New Orleans home.

“We just cleaned up our yard and decorated for Halloween, so now we have to do it all over again,” Becnel said. “But I think that’s mainly what it’s going to be is just cleaning up debris, tree limbs, trash.”

Will Arute wasn’t so fortunate. A large section of oak tree snapped as the eyewall passed over New Orleans and crashed onto his car and a corner of the second story of his home. He said it sounded like a bomb went off.

“It was really intense, and the tree just cracked,” Arute said. “I did not anticipate this to happen. It was pretty intense along the eye wall when it went through here. Luckily, it wasn’t worse. No one got hurt. I just hope everybody else is safe.”

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Zeta barrels northeast after battering storm-weary coast

A fast-moving Zeta weakened to a tropical storm as it barreled northeast Thursday morning after ripping through Louisiana and Mississippi where storm-weary residents were advised to stay indoors overnight while officials assessed the havoc the storm had wrought.

The storm raged onshore Wednesday afternoon in the small village of Cocodrie in Louisiana as a strong Category 2 and then moved swiftly across the New Orleans area and into neighboring Mississippi, bringing with it both fierce winds and storm surge. There was heavy rain at times but since the storm was so fast-moving, rain-related flooding wasn’t as much of a concern.

Zeta weakened over central Alabama but its strong winds continued across portions of the state and the Florida Panhandle. The storm was about 25 miles south southeast of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. Zeta is moving quickly toward the northeast near 31 mph.

The storm killed at least one person, a 55-year-old man who a Louisiana coroner said was electrocuted by a downed power line in New Orleans, and officials said life-threatening conditions would last into Thursday.

Waveland Mayor Mike Smith told WLOX-TV that his Mississippi Gulf Coast city, which was part of the area most heavily damaged by 2005′s Hurricane Katrina has maybe taken the worst hit since then from Zeta.

“We’re going to see a whole lot of damage in the morning,” Smith said. Among the many trees blown down was one that fell on Smith’s own house. “It was my next-door neighbor’s and he wanted to give it to me, apparently,” Smith said.

In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards was expected Thursday to tour the coastal regions hardest hit by the storm. During a radio interview Wednesday evening, Edwards said the wind had caused extensive structural damage. And as neighbors and church groups started reaching out to help those affected, he also highlighted the need to protect against the coronavirus at the same time.

“Offer the help but do it with a mask on,” he said.

Much of New Orleans and the surrounding area was without power Wednesday night. The storm packed a punch as it whipped through the city. Signs outside bars and restaurants swayed back and forth in the wind and palm trees along Canal Street whipped furiously. Officials said a person was hospitalized with minor injuries after a structure collapsed.

More than 200 trees were reported down in the city. Echoing a plea made by officials across the Gulf Coast in the dark hours after the storm passed, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell implored residents to stay home and let city officials assess the damage.

“Although we have made it through, we have been damaged, we have been hit,” she said.

Along coastal Louisiana, there were reports of some trailers flipped over, a gas station destroyed, and downed power lines and trees.

Zeta had top sustained winds of 110 mph as a Category 2 hurricane at landfall and is the 27th named storm of a historically busy Atlantic hurricane season — with over a month left to go. It set a new record as the 11th named storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. in a single season, well beyond the nine storms that hit in 1916.

Zeta weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 90 mph as it moved into southern Mississippi a few hours after landfall.

As much as 5 feet of Gulf water surrounded a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, and deputies in Harrison County, Mississippi, received multiple calls from people who had remained in mobile homes that were threatened by winds.

In the small coastal town of Bay St. Louis in Mississippi, former mayor Les Fillingame said the storm was “very intense” when it blew through.

“It was a noisy storm. It was a truly howling wind,” he said, but said thankfully it was also fast-moving. “It was a lot of wind for several hours which is enough.”

Tropical storm warnings were issued as far away as southern Virginia, highly unusual for the region. Forecasters issued a string of tornado warnings for as far east as the Florida Panhandle.

New Orleans was in the warning areas of six previous storms that veered east or west this season. This time, Zeta stayed on course. Officials had been worried about the loss of a power from a turbine that helps power the city’s aging drainage infrastructure and whether that would leave the city vulnerable to flooding but Zeta’s swift movement meant flooding wasn’t an issue.

On Tuesday, Zeta raked across Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, toppling trees and briefly cutting power to more than 300,000 people but causing no deaths.

It then regained strength over the Gulf of Mexico along a path slightly to the east of those of Hurricane Laura, which was blamed for at least 27 deaths in Louisiana in August, and Hurricane Delta, which exacerbated Laura’s damage in the same area weeks later.

The deteriorating weather prompted early voting sites to close for hours in the western Florida Panhandle. One voter in Mississippi worried about how long felled trees and debris might block roads.

“With the election I just kind of hope the city gets the roads clear by November 3rd so everybody can get out and vote,” said Mackenzie Umanzor, of D’Iberville, Mississippi.

An average season sees six hurricanes and 12 named storms. This extraordinarily busy season has focused attention on climate change, which scientists say is causing wetter, stronger and more destructive storms.

And the fact that so many of the storms have been concentrated in such a small piece of Gulf Coast real estate has meant repeated damage for some places. On Dauphin Island, Alabama, Mayor Jeff Collier said residents and workers had nearly finished cleaning up from Hurricane Sally when the wind started blowing and the water started rising yet again.

“This is going to put his back to square one again,” Collier said.

[FALL FOLIAGE: Changing colors of the NC mountains]

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