Flooding turns Durham streets into rivers
Posted July 20
Updated July 21
Raleigh, N.C. — The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for Durham, Wake and Chatham counties Monday afternoon as storms fired across central North Carolina.
Although only 1 inch of rain was officially recorded at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said radar estimates show 3 inches of rain fell in parts of Durham and in areas west of the airport. An estimated 5 inches of rain fell near Siler City, while about 4 inches fell north of Goldston in Chatham County.
"There were some areas that really got pounded," Fishel said, adding that there was "a lot of variation" across the region.
Flooding was reported in Durham on East Lawson Street near North Carolina Central University, a portion of University Drive, parts of Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard and other sites. There were reports of standing water along U.S. Highway 15/501.
Durham police also reported the traffic light at South Alston Avenue and Nixon Street was out after lightning struck a transformer.
"When you see heavy rains, you get nervous," said Pat Cooney, owner of Rockford Barber Shop on University Drive. "Every time we get heavy rain, we get floods like this."
Water flowed into the shops in the small shopping center, including Nana's restaurant, the street was closed to traffic and the squeegees were pulled out of storage to begin the cleanup once the water receded.
Some areas near Hope Valley Country Club looked more like streams than streets.
Prudence Meyer was at home about 1 p.m. when she received a frantic phone call from her daughter, who had tried to drive through high water on Dover Road.
"She said, 'I'm being pulled onto the golf course. My car is flooding,'" Meyer said. "My younger daughter and I raced over here, and there she was stuck.
"That's a lesson to be learned," Meyer continued. "She won't do it again next time."
Durham street crews planned to check storm drains to clear out debris once the water levels dropped enough.
Scattered storms continued to pop up Monday evening, but Fishel said they were so small and isolated that the threat of flooding was pretty much over for the day.
Tuesday should again be "unsettled," he said, before a low-pressure system over Alabama and Georgia moves west and allows a Bermuda high-pressure system to take over and produce sunnier skies and warmed temperatures on Wednesday.
Monday's high was only 79, but highs should reach the lower 90s by Wednesday.