Storms cause flooding on Triangle roads

Posted May 27, 2011

— The remnants of a storm system that ravaged the Midwest earlier this week brought heavy rain to central North Carolina Friday afternoon, causing flooding throughout the Triangle.

A flash flood watch covers more than 20 counties, including Chatham, Durham and Wake, until 6 a.m. Saturday. 

"There is still the potential for locally heavy rains," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. 

Fishel said an estimated 5 inches of rain fell in Chapel Hill on Friday afternoon prompting some street closures due to high water. 

Chapel Hill police said Franklin Street was closed briefly. Water was also reported on South Estes and Fordham roads. Chapel Hill's public transportation temporarily detoured the F and J routes due to the weather. 

"It was pretty wild. Before you knew it, it was starting with a little bit of rain. You heard a loud crack and the heavens let loose," said Deidre Cotterill, who was at work at the Franklin Hotel when the storms started. 

An interactive look at driving in flood waters WRAL Weather team WRAL WeatherCenter Forecast

Durham restaurant floods

In Durham, police closed University Drive, between Woodridge and Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, for several hours. Flooding was also reported in the 1200 block of North Alston Avenue. 

Employees at Nana's Restaurant on University Drive said they had to leave the restaurant because of flooding. Backed-up water from a drain caused the restaurant and nearby businesses to flood during a storm two weeks ago.

Scotty Howell, who owns Nana's and the Rockwood Building on University Avenue, said it was the worst flooding he has ever seen in the area. He said he is concerned that part of the Rockwood Building will collapse because it is built on a culvert. 

"I'm worried about the foundation collapsing. We already rebuilt the foundation out front, but I've never seen water come out of it like that before," Howell said. 

Whitney O'Brian, a manager of a hair salon in the Rockwood Building, told WRAL News that the floors were coming up.

"The floor in our salon actually came up and exploded. So, it kind of looks like a roof in there right now with water coming out of the floor," O'Brian said. 

O'Brian said she and others evacuated the salon within about five minutes. Firefighters evacuated the rest of the building. 

Authorities said there was up to 8 inches of water inside the Rockwood Building. 

Firefighters said they are also concerned about part of University Drive giving way and a power pole falling.

Tips for driving in flood waters

In Fuquay-Varina, downtown shop owner Jim Neely said about a foot of water covered the streets Friday afternoon. 

"Water just rose up and everything here just flooded," he said. "It was over the sidewalk and coming up to the steps, and it all just happened very quickly." 

WRAL viewers reported that large hail fell in Fuquay-Varina and Apex in Wake County. Heavy hail accumulated on lawns in Oxford in Granville County.

The heavy downpour forced the delay of sporting events across the area. Play was expected to resume Friday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park where the ACC Baseball Tournament is taking place. At WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, two high school girls state championship soccer games were delayed.

See severe weather in your area? Send us your storm photos, videos

Power outages, travel delays

Progress Energy reported that more than 10,600 customers in Wake County were without power. Most of the outages are in Raleigh and Apex. Duke Energy reported 200 outages in Durham County. 

Authorities at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport said flights have not been canceled but there are delays. Travelers should contact their airlines to find out specific delay information. 

Storms possible Saturday

Thunderstorms could pop up through Friday evening. The best chance for storms is from the Triangle west.

On Saturday, both central and eastern North Carolina will have a shot at storms.

"East of the Triangle is where the best chance of rain will be tomorrow," Fishel said. 

 The chance of storms will recede on Sunday.

The daily highs will reach around 86 degrees Friday, 83 degrees Saturday and 88 degrees Sunday – still above normal but a relief from a four-day string of 90-plus degree highs.

The 90s, though, will likely make their return on Memorial Day.


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  • Da Toy Maker May 27, 2011

    Driving to work at around 3:15PM on I540:

    1). A nice BMW spanned out of control & hit the cable on East bound. Shattered Rea windshield.

    2). An SUV in the ditch.

    3). A small Chevy tangled up with the divide cable.

    Some Areas got quite a bit of rain, I guess.

  • Mark Hayes May 27, 2011

    Spend what you,ve got the end is near,sometime next week so don't blow it all tonight.

  • MudLife May 27, 2011

    The rain was bad from Benson to Zebulon. Left work at 3:30 and got home about 4:35 and was creeping do I-40 couldn't see a thing. Sucks for my boss though. He rode his bike today and hopefully someone came and picked up him and his bike.

  • keneds May 27, 2011

    I am not from Raleigh but I assume it has never rained there before, I understand when everything is concret and asphault you have 100% run off it has to flood... Get over it WRAL coverage from 3pm till 6:30 is going to be a bit much

  • TheDude abides... May 27, 2011

    Glad I dont have to lug around that blamed waterhose tonight!

    Yay rain!

  • robt78 May 27, 2011

    hopefully everyone will remain safe!! too bad we have to go thru all of this... HAARP is such a bad program, and continues to hurt us. -

  • Diabolical May 27, 2011

    Stay safe everyone.

  • 0 Tolerance aka Ms.Turner May 27, 2011

    thanks unc70!

  • hfweather May 27, 2011

    We got 6+ inches of rain in two hours with no breaks in the downpours as the line of storms stretching to SC barely moved eastward.
    GOLO member since March 5, 2008
    May 27, 2011 3:25 p.m

    okay i got 6inches in 90 minutes 2 weeks ago where does wral then?did not see them all over tv,radio,etc.this may come as a suprise to many of you but scattered tstorms can dump heavy rain in one area,and sunshine in the next.yes these are called scattered sun out all day,mite get a sprinkle but thats it.i got drenched last time now its your time,im glad no one is spared.

  • hfweather May 27, 2011

    everytime we get a heavy thunderstorm there is flooding everywhere.this is covering the viewing area,so lets take a look at danville,va. again fishel.not a drop here,say it mite hit,mite not,who knows/ty for being on tv since time my area has a tstorm i want wral to stay on the air,and tell everyone what i am getting.