Flash flood watches issued locally ahead of Hurricane Hermine
Posted September 1, 2016
Updated September 2, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — Hurricane Hermine had formed a well-defined center by Thursday afternoon and was on track to make landfall in the Florida panhandle early Friday morning.
The storm's forecast track takes it over land, across Georgia and South Carolina through Friday and then along the North Carolina coast.
While rain began in the Triangle Thursday afternoon, Hurricane Hermine's effects won't be felt in the Tar Heel State until Friday afternoon, when thunderstorms ahead of the hurricane mix with rain ahead of a passing cold front. The interaction, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said, will make the ultimate local impact greater.
“It’s going to be this interaction that’s really going to be the key thing to watch,” Fishel said.
The Triangle could see 3 to 6 inches of rain fall by the time skies clear on Saturday afternoon.
Flash flood watches were issued for most of central and eastern North Carolina, including Wake, Orange, Durham and Johnston counties from 2 p.m. Friday through 11 a.m. Saturday.
Although the wind gusts are estimated only to be in the 30 to 40 mph range by the time Hermine reaches Raleigh, saturated ground and gusty winds create the conditions for trees to fall.
“We’re hopeful that the wind gusts will remain low enough so it probably going to be more of a nuisance than anything else,” Fishel said.
Areas to the south and east of the Triangle could get even more rain. A National Weather Service estimate had coastal plain counties seeing 8 inches or more.
Steady rain will hold temperatures in the mid-70s across North Carolina at least until the storm moves out.
The holiday weekend won't be a total washout, Fishel said. By Sunday, the sun returns and temperatures climb back into the 80s.
"Two-thirds of the weekend actually look pretty good," he said.
Hermine became a hurricane Wednesday afternoon, after an Air Force plane measured maximum sustained winds within the storm at 80 mph. As of 2 a.m. Friday, Hermine was centered about 35 miles southeast of Tallahassee, Florida, and was moving north-northeast near 14 mph.
A hurricane warning was in effect for a section of Florida's Gulf coast from the Suwanne River to Mexico Beach. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for other sections of Florida's Gulf coast.
Gov. Pat McCrory got a briefing on the story from his emergency management personnel, and in turn asked Tar Heel State residents and visitors to prepare.
“We are working together across multiple agencies throughout North Carolina to make sure we are over prepared and underwhelmed for this storm because we want people to safely enjoy their Labor Day vacation in North Carolina," the governor said. “Safety always remains our top priority.”
Duke Energy was moving people and equipment to locations expected to be at greatest risk for power outage as the storm passes.