— As rains from a coastal storm system continued to fall Wednesday, forecasters expanded flood warnings from eastern North Carolina to include the Triangle.
A storm bearing down on North Carolina with heavy rain and high winds sent a tree crashing into a pickup in Raleigh, knocked out power at a college basketball game and fanned the flames at a beach condo fire.
Urban and small-stream flood warnings have been issued for several central North Carolina counties, including Wake and Durham, and a flood watch continues until 7 p.m. Wednesday for most of the eastern half of the state.
Horace Bohlin was driving on Mid-Pines Road, off Tryon Road, when the combination of wind and rain brought a tree down on the hood of his truck. He suffered minor injuries in the accident.
"I knew the tree was coming because I saw the shadow. I hit the brakes, and luckily, it got down below the hood," Bohlin said. "Otherwise, I guess it would have come through the windshield."
A tree also fell on two houses near the intersection of Lane and Heck streets east of downtown Raleigh. No one was injured, authorities said.
The cause of a fire at an 18-unit condominium at Kure Beach is still under investigation.
"Not only are we fighting the fire, we're fighting the weather conditions with fatigue and the wind pushing the fire where you don't want it to go," said Tom Sosebee, a deputy fire marshal with New Hanover County Fire Rescue.
Rainfall was such a threat that Carolina Beach town workers drained water from a small lake at the town park to prevent flooding.
"We're getting some heavy rains," said Carolina Beach spokeswoman Valita Quattlebaum.
At High Point University, wind caused a power outage that postponed a men's basketball game with Chowan University just before halftime. High Point Athletic Director Woody Gibson said a substation apparently failed and the game was called after waiting an hour for the lights to come on.
Duke Energy said more than 10,000 customers were without power in North and South Carolina. Progress Energy reported 2,832 outages, with 2,480 in Clayton and about 82 in the eastern counties.
"Right along the coast, we're looking at northeast winds right about 35 to 45 mph," Hal Austin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Newport, said Tuesday.
Austin said wind speeds could gust as high as 50 mph, and water levels could be 4 to 6 feet above normal in some areas. Rainfall of 3 to 4 inches Wednesday was possible in some areas, the weather service said.
A wind advisory has been issued until 7 p.m. Wednesday in several central North Carolina counties. The weather service said the combination of the coastal low-pressure system and an area of high pressure to our northwest would continue to produce blustery northeast winds over the area, with sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph and occasional gusts as high as 40 to 50 mph expected through Wednesday.
WRAL meteorologists said periods of rain should gradually clear Wednesday afternoon. Thanksgiving Day is expected to be clear in the Triangle area as the Nor'easter is expected to move northwards.
Gov. Mike Easley asked swift-water rescue teams to be ready on the coast if needed, and ordered the National Guard to have high-clearance vehicles on standby.
Dare County officials issued a statement advising motorists to watch for standing water and blowing sand on N.C. 12. The state Department of Transportation halted all ferry service Tuesday, and said it would likely not resume until Thursday.
A flood warning was issued for Carteret, Craven and Pamlico counties through 7 a.m. Thursday. The warning was in effect for the Outer Banks, Currituck County and Virginia Beach between 6 a.m. Wednesday and noon Thursday.
Austin said the worst effects will be felt through the middle of the day Wednesday, after which conditions will slowly improve.
"Winds will be coming down Wednesday night. Thanksgiving Day looks like a wet day, but not as windy," Austin said.
Weather conditions in the western portion of the state were not expected to affect holiday travel.
Mountain skies should be clear Wednesday night, said Neil Dixon with the weather service in Greer, S.C. While temperatures could dip to freezing Tuesday night and early Wednesday, Dixon said he didn't expect anything that would impede travel.