HomeOutdoorsTropical Storm Zeta Forces 90-Mile Detour After North Carolina Landslide

Tropical Storm Zeta Forces 90-Mile Detour After North Carolina Landslide

by Chris Haney
Photo by Lan Wei/Xinhua via Getty Images

On Friday, officials reported that Tropical Storm Zeta caused a landslide off N.C. 226 in Western North Carolina, which forced a 90-mile detour for drivers that were cut off from using the highway.

The landslide occurred overnight in McDowell County, leaving dirt, trees, and other debris scattered all over N.C. 226. Officials of the county’s emergency management warned locals around 3 a.m. EST on Twitter of the highway shutdown.

“Residents living on NC 226N and NC 226A will have to use an alternative route,” McDowell County EM tweeted. “Emergency crews are on the scene.”

Additionally, around an hour later, the McDowell County EM also tweeted another warning about the landslide affecting the highway. The post also shared a photo of the debris – including entire trees – that shifted into the road during the landslide.

Foothills Action Network also took to Twitter around 9 a.m. EST to show the morning’s progress of the landslide cleanup. The post said that the route would remain closed all day. Other reports hint at the highway being closed throughout most of the weekend.

Landslide Forcing McDowell County to Take Precautions

Tropical Storm Zeta made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday. However, as it made its way through North Carolina on Thursday, officials downgraded the hurricane to a tropical storm. Even so, Zeta brought heavy rain, flooding, and high winds upwards of 60 mph. On Thursday, officials put McDowell County under a flood warning that lasted until 7 p.m. EST.

“These winds will likely combine with saturated soil conditions to knock down numerous trees, limbs, and power lines later this morning. Wind gusts could be especially severe across the southern Appalachian Mountains,” the National Weather Service reported.

According to The McDowell News, the landslide on Friday morning removed access between Mitchell and McDowell counties. The local newspaper reported that the N.C. Department of Transportation created a 90-mile detour because of the landslide. The detour forced northbound drivers to “take I-40 West to I-240 West to I-26 West to U.S. 19E east to its intersection with N.C. 226 in Mitchell County.” Southbound drivers need only to reverse the route.

McDowell County Emergency Management said EMS, the Woodlawn Fire Department, and the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office have temporarily placed personnel on each side of the landslide as a precaution in case of an emergency.

Scott Killough, N.C. DOT assistant maintenance engineer, said the department is sending equipment and collaborating with the power company to clear the highway of the debris.

“We estimate that there’s more than 100 dump-truck loads of material that we’ll have to haul away,” Killough explained. “Our goal is to reopen the highway by Sunday morning.”

[H/T Charlotte Observer]