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Maryland expected to feel lingering effects of Tropical Storm Zeta, a projected hurricane, later this week

The forecast track of Hurricane Zeta as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (National Hurricane Center)
The forecast track of Hurricane Zeta as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (National Hurricane Center)

Maryland will feel the lingering effects later in the week of Tropical Storm Zeta, which is expected to redevelop into a hurricane as it hits the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The Baltimore area could see rainfall as early as Wednesday night, with 1 to 3 inches through Friday in most places, including higher levels in some areas, according to the weather service forecast. There is potential for isolated flooding, depending on rainfall levels, the forecast said.

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Wind gusts from about 23 to 29 mph are expected, according to the forecast.

“It looks like a wet end to the week for sure,” said Kevin Witt, a meteorologist in the Sterling, Virginia, weather service office.

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Slight variations in the storm’s direction could make a big impact on the amount of rain and wind the area gets, Witt said.

Zeta developed into a Category 1 hurricane Monday night as it crossed Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula but slowed to a tropical storm. The National Hurricane Center projects Zeta to bring a “life-threatening” storm surge along the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, with the most flooding between portions of eastern Louisiana and Alabama. Warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico are expected to push the storm back to at or near hurricane strength as it hits the coast.

The storm is projected to pick up intensity quickly and will probably slow to become a tropical depression near Atlanta within 12 hours after landfall, Witt said.

When the storm’s remnants reach the Baltimore area, rain could begin on-and-off as early as Wednesday night, becoming more steady by Thursday morning, Witt said. Right now, it is too early to tell with confidence where the heaviest rain could come, Witt said.

Tropical Storm Zeta seen in the Gulf of Mexico at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.
Tropical Storm Zeta seen in the Gulf of Mexico at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (NOAA - GOES East)

Factors affecting the rainfall in the area include Zeta’s quick movement and potential weakening, a cold front expected to stall in the area Friday morning, and a low-pressure system.

The winds might not necessarily accompany the rain, Witt said, with the biggest concern for wind gusts Thursday night and throughout Friday.

“It’s not a hurricane-force wind, but enough wind and rain to notice that we did have something go through,” Witt said.

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