Hanna to blow through Triangle Saturday

Forecasters predict that Tropical Storm Hanna won't wash out the weekend in the Triangle. But Raleigh re-arranged the concert schedules for its block party, and crews worked to lessen the chance of flooding in surrounding counties.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The threat of weekend winds and rain from Tropical Storm Hanna prompted Raleigh leaders to tinker with their concert schedule, and surrounding counties got out crews to clear debris from ditches and culverts on Thursday.

Although Tropical Storm Hanna was predicted to make landfall around Wilmington early Saturday, the impact on central North Carolina should be muted.

Gale-force winds could buffet the Triangle and Fayetteville late Friday, and most computer models have Hanna tracking through the Triangle Saturday on its way to southeastern Virginia. The storm could drop 2 to 3 inches of rain on the region before heading out.

Raleigh Wide Open, the city's biggest block party, will go on despite Hanna, but three concerts have been moved up, city officials said Thursday.

On Friday, Mercury Blue will go on at 4:45 p.m, instead of 5:15 p.m; Arrested Development at 5:45, instead of 7 p.m.; and headliner Chuck Berry at 7:30 p.m., instead of 8:30 p.m.

The dedication of Raleigh's new convention center at noon will still play a starring role in the opening act of Raleigh Wide Open.

The expected 50,000 downtown visitors will get a windy welcome Saturday.

"By midday on Saturday, if all goes as the models suggest, winds in the Triangle could blow to 30, 40 or 50 mph," Maze said.

Those strong winds might force organizers to cancel fireworks planned for Friday and Saturday nights, organizers said.

Raleigh leaders said they would continue to monitor Hanna's path and make further changes to the event schedule if the weather becomes more threatening.

"Anytime you have the public involved, you have to be concerned about safety," Mayor Charles Meeker said. "If it really does get windy, we'll have to make a change, but right now, it doesn't look like that. It looks like it might be a little rain and nothing too serious."

Leaders in eastern counties moved quickly Thursday to stave off flooding.

Five crews checked ditches and drains throughout Rocky Mount, looking for trouble spots that could cause flooding. They cleared debris from culverts and removed large tree limbs from creek beds.

"The fewer obstructions we have along the way, the faster the water can flow out," Blair Hinkle, the city's storm-water manager, said.

Rocky Mount's swift-water rescue team geared up for action locally or anywhere across the state. The city's fire department checked all its gear, from fuel levels to hoses on all fire trucks.

"We're very confident that certainly we'll be able to handle anything that comes our way with this storm," Hinkle said.

Crews made similar preparations in Fayetteville and Wilson, clearing ditches, and power crews stocked up on supplies.

Johnston County officials said they will notify residents of any emergency situations by a telephone notification system.


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