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The National Weather Service Office in Blacksburg, Va., provides forecasts for the Watauga County area. Use of this logo does not imply endorsement by the National Weather Service of Mountain Times Publications or its products.

BLACKSBURG, Va. — A tropical storm warning, high wind watch and flood watch are in effect for Watauga and Ashe counties as the remnants of Hurricane Zeta approach the area.

"Hurricane Zeta nearing the southeast Louisiana Gulf Coast will move rapidly inland overnight and turn northeast and move rapidly across central and northern Alabama, northern Georgia and across southern Virginia on Thursday," the National Weather Center office in Blacksburg, Va., stated. "This system is still expected to have tropical storm characteristics as it moves across Virginia Thursday morning into the early afternoon.

"As Zeta moves toward the region, tropical storm force winds will begin to impact southwestern areas, especially along and east of the Blue Ridge, across northwest North Carolina early Thursday, with these winds spreading northeast across sections along and east of the Blue Ridge in Virginia through Thursday morning into the afternoon across the Piedmont," the office stated. "Wind speeds in the 40 to 50 mph range with higher gusts in rain bands to the northeast of the center can be expected along and east of the Blue Ridge. These winds will be strong enough to topple trees and result in widespread power outages. In addition, isolated tornadoes may occur within some of the stronger bands from late Friday into the weekend. Residents should be prepared to be without power for a few days and stock up on supplies accordingly.

"Finally, heavy rainfall will also accompany (the system) with amounts of 2 to 3 inches widespread along and west of the Blue Ridge with locally 4 inches across the mountains of western North Carolina into far southwest Virginia. Flash flooding and flooding can be expected as a result of this heavy rain Thursday morning into the afternoon."

A high wind watch is in effect from 2 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, through Thursday evening. Potential impacts include:

• Damage to porches, awnings, carports, sheds and unanchored mobile homes. Unsecured lightweight objects blown about.

• Many large tree limbs broken off. A few trees snapped or uprooted, but with greater numbers in places where trees are shallow rooted. Some fences and roadway signs blown over.

• A few roads impassable from debris, particularly within urban or heavily wooded places. Hazardous driving conditions on bridges and other elevated roadways.

• Scattered power and communications outages.

Monitor the latest forecasts and warnings for updates on this situation. Fasten loose objects or shelter objects in a safe location prior to the onset of winds.

In addition, a flood watch is in effect from 12 a.m. Thursday until Thursday afternoon for portions of North Carolina and southwest Virginia, including Watauga and Ashe counties.

Potential impacts include:

• Moderate rainfall flooding may prompt several evacuations and rescues.

• Rivers and tributaries may quickly become swollen with swifter currents and overspill their banks in a few places, especially in usually vulnerable spots. Small streams, creeks, canals and ditches overflow.

• Flood waters can enter some structures or weaken foundations. Several places may experience expanded areas of rapid inundation at underpasses, low-lying spots and poor drainage areas. Some streets and parking lots take on moving water as storm drains and retention ponds overflow. Driving conditions become hazardous. Some road and bridge closures.

A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

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