High winds expected inland from Irene
Hurricane Irene shifted slightly east Friday morning, but it could still have an impact on North Carolina beyond the coast, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.Posted — Updated
She predicts that the Triangle could feel wind gusts of up to 50 mph and see 1 to 2 inches of rain by Sunday.
That is in stark contrast to the coast, where up to a foot of rain is forecast for Wilmington and even more for Elizabeth City. The entire eastern half of the state is under a flash flood watch. Irene is expected to move along the Outer Banks Saturday as a Category 3 hurricane.
The forecast calls for rain from the outer bands of the storm to begin hitting North Carolina by mid-day on Friday and intensify significantly through the day Saturday.
The central part of the state may not bear the brunt of the storm, but that doesn't mean Irene won't dampen weekend plans, Maze said.
"Conditions will deteriorate overnight Friday into Saturday across the eastern half of the state," said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel. "We are in for a very long couple of days."
Heavy rain is possible as far west as the Triangle, and Cumberland County could see up to 2 inches or more fall by Sunday. Along the Interstate 95 corridor, 4 to 6 inches of rain could fall Saturday.
Winds will be steady in the 30-mph range with heavier gusts. There is a chance for tropical storm strength winds of up to 105 mph into the central part of the state.
Experts advise inland residents to prepare for spotty power outages by gassing up cars and generators, moving lawn furniture and other items indoors and stocking up on bottled water and cash. When power goes out, gas pumps, ATMs and credit card readers won't work.