This story was updated at 1:15 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2020, with more information.
Some schools in the Chattanooga region will start classes on a delay or not open at all on Thursday as Hurricane Zeta approaches.
Hamilton County Schools will be on a two-hour delay Thursday due to the threat of high winds and heavy rains that could impact power lines, trees, and local road conditions, according to a HCS news release. At-home students will follow their home school's schedule. All school-aged child care locations will open Thursday morning at 7 a.m.
UTC also announced that a two-hour delay will be in effect Thursday morning for all in-person and online classes and all other on-campus operations due to the severe weather forecast.
All Whitfield County schools and administrative offices will be closed on Thursday due to "heavy rainfall and strong winds in the area", according to a news release from Whitfield County Schools.
All campuses of Georgia Northwestern Technical College will also be closed on Thursday.
Cleveland City Schools will start on a two-hour delay on Thursday due to possible inclement weather. Weather and road conditions will be re-evaluated by school officials in the morning, according to a CCS news release.
No severe weather is expected for the Chattanooga area on Wednesday, but there is heavy rain, potential for flooding and gusty wind from Zeta early Thursday, according to WRCB.
Zeta raked across the Yucatan Peninsula Tuesday, striking as a hurricane, before weakening to a tropical storm. It re-strengthened into a hurricane early Wednesday as Louisiana braced for the 27th named storm of a historically busy Atlantic hurricane season.
Zeta then slammed into the storm-weary Gulf Coast on Wednesday, pelting the New Orleans metro area with rain and howling winds that ripped apart buildings and knocked out power to thousands before rapidly making its way through Mississippi and Alabama with strong gusty winds, heavy rains and dangerous storm surge.
Zeta weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 80 mph (128 kph) as it moved into southern Mississippi few hours after landfall, but forecasters said it remained a life-threatening storm. The storm was about 45 miles (72 kilometers) northeast of Hattiesburg early Wednesday. A 91 mph (146 kph) wind gust blew through Mobile, Alabama, Tuesday and a NOAA gauge reported a 10-foot storm surge in Waveland, Mississippi.
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 in a region already pounded by multiple storms this year.
More than 875,000 customers were without electricity in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, including about 350,000 in metro New Orleans. Outages were mounting quickly as the storm moved northeastward across the Deep South.
Tropical storm warnings were issued for a large swath of the South, from Mississippi into Alabama and Georgia, including all of the Atlanta area, where winds could gust up to 55 mph (89 kph) early Thursday. Winds could be "especially severe" in the southern Appalachian Mountains, where flash flooding is possible, the hurricane center said.
Large school systems in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina planned to close Thursday or open late.