Local News

Spring Storm Causes Landslide, Flooded Rivers Across State

Posted April 11, 2003

— Forecasters say the precipitation that has drenched North Carolina this week is on its way out. But there still is a likelihood of lighter rain Friday and some continued flooding.

The storm that stretched from North Carolina's mountains to its coast has already been blamed for a landslide, electric outages and flooded rivers.

The washout is adding to problems in a Vance County neighorhood. Stormwater flooded ditches along Vicksboro and Franklin Roads and swamped yards.

James Weasner's Vance County home never fails to flood.

"The state came down here Tuesday evening and put this [ditch] down for us to slow the water down It does't work, none of it works," he said.

Officials say it is becoming a health hazard for several homeowners. State workers plan to repair the drainage problems once it dries out.

Precipitation won't end until Friday evening, said Joel Cline, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Raleigh.

"We've got from snow in the mountains to hail in the western Piedmont to gales at the coast," Cline said.

In Asheville, snow was coming down hard and fast Thursday afternoon, quickly coating cars and streets as well as spring flowers.

"I can't see two streets away," said Sarah Thomas, a public relations coordinator at the Biltmore Company. "I've never been in a blizzard when there's also thunder and lightning at the same time. It would be OK if it were February, but this is April."

She did admit the snow on the flowers was a beautiful - if surreal - sight.

"It looks like ice cream with sprinkles," he said.

At the other end of the state, winds of up to 38 mph were measured by Frank Folb at his fishing tackle shop in Avon along the Outer Banks.

"Yes, yes and yes," Folb said when asked if the wind was up, the surf rough and rain falling hard.

"I have not had many customers today. My cash register is so cold I could chill drinks in it. This is miserable."

Tidal flooding, pushed by winds from the northeast at high tide, flowed over N.C. 12 and closed it for a while north of Rodanthe, he said. Power was out for about three hours earlier in the day.

In between the two edges of the state, heavy rains pushed rivers and streams higher and, in some cases, out of their banks. Roads throughout the state were closed because of flooding.

Flooding from the Tar River in Rocky Mount forced the closing of River Drive at Sunset Park and Riverside Drive along the Nash and Edgecombe county lines near Tom Stith Park. The river is expected to crest Saturday night at 19.2 feet, about four feet above flood stage.

Weather-related accidents were widespread, as well. By late Thursday, the Highway Patrol responded to 28 accidents in Wake County alone and eight in Johnston County. In Nash County, wet roads contributed to a accident that turned tragic. The driver, who hit a guardrail, was struck by an oncoming vehicle after getting out of her car.

Cline said the raw, wet, windy weather was caused by a combination of weather systems.

Forecasters said the Tar River in Rocky Mount was rising and could crest at 19.2 feet Saturday night, flooding low-lying residences and businesses.

Winston-Salem police reported some flooding on Stratford Road near Hanes Mall and officers erected barricades and rerouted traffic. High winds in the city toppled some trees.

A flood watch was issued through early Thursday night for all of central North Carolina. Coastal flooding was forecast along the Outer Banks and in Beaufort, Pamlico, Craven, Hyde and Carteret counties.

Cline said the raw, wet, windy weather was caused by a combination of weather systems.

"We've got a huge low in the upper part of the atmosphere sitting and spinning keeping this moisture and cold air entrenched over us," Cline said.

"We've got a surface low off the coast of Charleston-Myrtle Beach area. Normally, when we get these days with northeast winds we've got a high over New England - that's what's kicking this wind up."


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