In the Triangle: Flood threat, rain, winds could last for days

Posted September 14, 2018 4:40 a.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2018 2:54 a.m. EDT

Hurricane Florence made landfall in Wilmington Friday as a Category 1 storm, and its impact will be felt all of Friday, much of Saturday and into next week.


  • Wind gusts of up to 50 mph are possible through Friday and Saturday.
  • Wake County is under a flash flood warning and a tropical storm warning through Friday night.
  • By 6 p.m., Raleigh had recorded almost 2 inches of rain and Fayetteville measured almost 4 inches.

The latest updates from our viewing area:

2:53 a.m.: Around Raleigh, there is standing water on many roads and traffic signals are out, making travel difficult.  

2:23 a.m.: Durham officials said several areas around the county are experiencing flooding including West Trinity Avenue, Lakewood Avenue, Kent Street, Highway 98 at Lynn road and the 1500 block of Holloway Street.

1:58 a.m.: Durham officials said the on-ramp from Academy Road to Chapel Hill Boulevard is closed due to a downed tree and power line.

1:56 a.m.: Flash flood warnings have been extended until 11 a.m. Saturday for Wake and Johnston counties.

1:38 a.m.: A man was pinned near his bed after a tree fell on his home on Farm Ridge Road early Saturday morning. Authorities said the man was conscious when he was rescued, and other people inside the home made it out safely.

The house that the tree fell on still had power.

1:25 a.m.: Durham officials said the county remains under a flash flood watch until 8 p.m. Sunday and another 2 to 4 inches of rain are expected Saturday.

Officials said the Bahama Ruritan Club and Hillside High School remain open as shelters. Bahama has five evacuees inside and Hillside had 68 people and three dogs.

1:04 a.m.: WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said that even though the storm is moving west, Raleigh and other areas that saw heavy rain and power outages Friday can expect more of the same Saturday.

"Hopefully things will begin to get a little bit better after that," Fishel said.

1:02 a.m.: Tropical storm warnings remain in effect for much of the Triangle and counties to the south and east remain under a tornado watch until about 7 a.m.

A persistent rain bad that dumped more than a foot of rain on eastern counties was making its way into Harnett and Cumberland counties.

12:55 a.m.: Authorities said everyone was able to get out safely when a tree fell on a home on Farm Ridge Road in Raleigh.

11:59 p.m.: A flash flood warning has been issued for Wake, Johnston and Cumberland counties until 3 a.m.

10:51 p.m.: The center of Tropical Storm Florence is over South Carolina, but rain bands associated with the storm were still stretching into parts of Raleigh.

WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said Raleigh was seeing sustained wind speeds of 18 mph, with gusts of 29 mph, while Fayetteville was seeing sustained winds of 30 mph with gusts of 45 mph.

10:26 p.m.: Fayetteville officials said 677 people are signed into seven shelters in Cumberland County.

10:13 p.m.: A flood warning for Johnston County has been extended until 9 a.m. on Sept. 19.

8:51 p.m.: With a flash flood emergency in effect for southeast Johnston County until 10 p.m., people living in low-lying areas or in areas experiencing flooding are advised to use caution and seek shelter at Clayton High School at 600 S. Fayetteville Street.

Officials said rain bands affecting all areas of Johnston County southeast of Interstate 95 are expected to bring more than 2 inches of rain per hour through midnight in an area that has already seen about 11 inches of rain.

8:45 p.m.: Johnston County Emergency Services said authorities have responded to 87 reports of trees across roads, 33 reports of additional downed trees and 50 downed power lines in the county.

Officials said six of the downed trees had fallen on structures, one of the downed power lines had fallen on a structure and nine power lines had fallen on roadways.

Officials said eight roads are currently flooded: N.C. Highway 242 near Benson, N.C. Highway 96 near Benson, Devils Racetrack Road near Four Oaks, Beasley Road near Benson, Richardson Bridge Road near Smithfield, Stephenson Road near Benson, Stezen's Chapel Road near Smithfield and Red House Road near Smithfield.

8:33 p.m.: Cary officials said a 12-person water rescue team and other resources are ready to assist with response to Hurricane Florence.

Cary officials said that the town has been spared from the worst impacts of the storm and is responding to a request from North Carolina Emergency Management for resources from less-impacted municipalities.

Since 2 p.m., Cary officials said they responded to 16 reports of downed trees and wires or debris.

8:17 p.m.: Former One Direction member Niall Horan has canceled a scheduled Sept. 17 concert at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park as a result of Florence. All tickets purchased online or by phone will be automatically refunded, according to LiveNation.

8:12 p.m.: Fayetteville officials said Cumberland County's Florence information line and all phones in the Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center are down. The county's webpage and email are also offline, officials said.

The Cumberland County 911 center is operating as normal, but residents are advised to only call 911 in the event of a real emergency.

Power was out at the Mac Williams Middle School and W.T. Brown Elementary School shelters and the airport will remain closed until further notice because of a power outage.

8:06 p.m.: Florence, which is now a tropical storm, is expected to lose strength overnight and will have sustained winds of 50 mph by Saturday as it continues to move into South Carolina.

Wind gusts of 66 mph were recorded in Fayetteville while Smithfield saw wind gusts of 52 mph and Raleigh saw wind gusts of about 37 mph Friday afternoon.

WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said wind gusts up to 45 mph are possible Saturday in Raleigh and wind gusts up to 55 mph are possible in Fayetteville.

7:54 p.m. Nobody was injured when a tree fell on a home on Abercrombie Road in Wake Forest. Neighbors said the family inside the home was able to find another place to spend the night after the tree damaged the home.

7:39 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper said the Cape Fear and Lumber rivers are forecast to rise as high or higher than they did during Hurricane Matthew in 2016, causing devastating flooding.

7:36 p.m.: Officials said about 770,000 customers across the state were without power. Officials estimate that as many as 2.5 million could eventually be without power as a result of the storm.

7:34 p.m.: More than 22,600 people are staying in 150 shelters across the state and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will open a mass shelter on campus Saturday.

7:26 p.m.: As heavy rain bands associated with Florence continue to impact the Triangle, a flash flood warning has been extended until 12:45 a.m. for Wake County. A flash flood emergency has also been issued for Johnston County.

6:48 p.m.: A tree fell on a power line and sparked a fire on Rosehill Road near Chadwick Drive in Fayetteville. Drivers are advised to avoid the area.

6:37 p.m.: Raleigh-Durham Internal Airport said most airlines are planning to resume service Saturday, although travelers are asked to verify their flight with the carrier before arrival. Currently, about 71 of 400 flights scheduled for Saturday have been canceled.

American, United and Delta Airlines will open their ticket counters at 3:30 a.m.. American said scattered cancelations are expected throughout Saturday while Delta plans to operate on a near normal schedule. United said normal operations are expected Saturday.

JetBlue will open its ticket counter at 6:15 a.m., with scattered cancelations throughout the day, and Southwest will open its ticket counter at 8 a.m.

6:34 p.m.: Fayetteville police said road conditions in the city are worsening as fallen trees and power lines, debris and standing water are becoming more prevalent. Officials are warning residents to stay off the roads if possible.

5:05 p.m.: A tornado watch was allowed to expire for Wake County, but the threat of flash floods and trees or power lines downed by tropical storm-force winds remains through Friday evening.

According to the National Weather Service, Wake County could see wind gusts of up to 50 mph and an additional rainfall accumulation of 4 to 8 inches.

A few roads across the county are impassible with downed trees.

4:16 p.m.: In Hillsborough, where a red oak blew down on Calvin Street and knocked out power, Duke Energy said it expected to have the lights back on by 9 p.m.

3 p.m.: No flooding has yet been reported at the parking deck at Crabtree Valley Mall, which is prone to flooding. The mall is closed Friday.

Glenwood Avenue was closed in both directions Friday near Creedmoor Road, but the road has since reopened.

2:50 p.m.: A flash flood warning has been issued for Johnston County. Officials expect the Neuse River to crest in Clayton on Monday at 2 a.m. at 10.4 feet and in Smithfield on Monday at noon at 18.75 feet.

In Apex, N.C. Highway 55 is closed between Salem Street and Hughes Street due to flooding, according to police. Wake County is under a flash flood warning until 8 p.m.

2:02 p.m.: The tornado watch for Wake County expires at 5 p.m. and the flash flood warning expires by 8 p.m. Heavy rain continues to fall in the Triangle, and thankfully few cars are on the roads.

In Fayetteville, the roof blew off an ABC Store. "This is the power of the wind," tweeted Sheriff Ennis Wright. "If you don't have to be out, please stay indoors."

1:49 p.m.: The flash flood warning has been extended to include Wake County. "Be careful when driving around," said Gardner. "Flooding is imminent."

1:45 p.m.: Tornado warnings for Franklin and Nash counties have been allowed to expire.

In Raleigh, our reporters pulled over on Creedmoor Road in time to capture a transformer blowing out.

Wake County is under a flash flood warning through 7:45 p.m.

1:40 p.m.: A tornado warning has been allowed to expire for Edgecombe County.

1:15 p.m.: Strong winds have ripped the roof off a mobile home in Clayton. The resident was not at home.

1:07 p.m.: The tornado warning now also includes Franklin and Nash counties.

12:45 p.m.: A tornado warning has been issued for Edgecombe County until 1:15 p.m. The storm is moving at 45 mph near Tarboro and Princeville. Residents there are asked to take shelter away from windows.

12:43 a.m.: A whopping 557,793 are without power in North Carolina.

12:13 a.m.: The flash flood warning for much of central North Carolina now includes Robeson, Hoke, Moore Cumberland, Harnett, Johnston , Duplin, Lenoir, Bladen Sampson, Wayne and Wilson counties.

11:57 a.m.: A large tree was blocking all lanes of Crowder Road in Garner.

11:56 a.m.: Elizabeth Gardner said steady, strong winds will be felt in Raleigh throughout Saturday, and the rain could last until Tuesday.

11:44 a.m.: A family of five had to leave their home on Misty River Drive in Raleigh when a tree collapsed part of the roof. The parents and three kids are safe but say they are devastated, as they just moved into the home this month.

11:30 a.m.: High winds blew out a transformer, downed trees and damaged a parking deck at Raleigh's Cameron Village shopping center.

Cameron Village Hurricane Florence damage

11:26 a.m.: Widespread power outages are were reported in Hillsborough when a large, centuries-old tree fell on power lines along Calvin Street.

Tree in Hillsborough

10:42 a.m.: A family has has to leave their Wake County home because a tree fell and damaged it.

10:18 a.m.: Tropical storm force winds of 40 mph have already been reported in Raleigh, but the rain didn't become heavy until recently. In the WRAL Gardens, meteorologist Kat Campbell described it as "raining sideways."

10:17 a.m.: A flood warning has been issued for Wayne and Johnston counties. Wake County remains under a flash flood watch.

10:12 a.m.: Johnston County has already seen 2 to 4 inches of rain, and with more rain to come for days, flooding is a major concern.

9:55 a.m.: Some roads are impassable in Holly Springs, including Cass Holt Road near Holly Springs High School, due to downed trees and power lines. Crews are responding.

9:51 a.m.: JetBlue has canceled all flights at RDU for Friday. With the lower number of flights in Terminal 2, several shops and restaurants are closed on Concourses C and D. There are no shops and restaurants open in Terminal 1.

9:25 a.m.: FEMA officials are asking people to "stay where they are" at this point.

9:04 a.m.: The statewide power outage has jumped to 475,022.

9:02 a.m.: A photo sent to WRAL by a viewer showed a tree that has been split down the middle in Cary.

Tree down in Cary

8:50 a.m.: The Town of Garner stated that it is getting reports of power outages, which are being addressed by Duke Energy. Some intersections may lose power, making it all the more important for people to stay home if they have a choice.

8:41 a.m.: "Stay at home unless you have no choice," said Chatham County Emergency Management. Hurricane Florence is a huge storm, and it will bring heavy rains and strong winds to central North Carolina.

8:21 a.m.: 547 people have reported to the seven emergency shelters open in Cumberland County. Buses have transported 68 residents to shelters.

8:04 a.m.: The statewide power outage has jumped to 403,000.

8 a.m.: A flash flood warning is in effect for Wayne and Wilson counties until 2 p.m.

7:56 a.m.: Greenville was seeing heavy rain and officials say the Tar River is at risk for flooding.

7:36 a.m.: The heaviest rain in Raleigh will be around noon, Gardner said. By 5 p.m., the rain bands will be moving north.

7:23 a.m.: A homeowner in Durham has reported a large tree down in his yard.

7:09 a.m.: Two storm-related injuries have been reported in Edgecombe County. Gov. Roy Cooper said no storm-related deaths have been reported in North Carolina.

7:01 a.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for most of our viewing area, including Wake, Edgecombe, Franklin, Harnett Johnston, Nash, Sampson, Wayne and Wilson counties. This means the conditions are right for a tornado to form. The tornadoes may be weak and short-lived but can cause significant damage.

6:58 a.m.: Impacts from Florence are beginning to show around the Triangle, including heavy rain and tropical storm force winds. "If you are heading out, be careful," said WRAL Brian Shrader. "The worst is yet to come."

By Friday afternoon, the Triangle's roads could see flooding.

6:38 a.m.: A flood advisory has been issued for Johnston, Wilson, Harnett and Edgecombe counties, meaning there is minor flooding reported in the area. Wake County is currently under a flash flood watch.

6:29 a.m.: The City of Raleigh is tweeting out important reminders to citizens. The non-emergency call center for Hurricane Florence is 919-996-2999.

6:07 a.m.: Trees are down in Johnston County due to rain bands and heavy winds moving through the area. The top wind gusts were reported in Raleigh are at 39 mph. Winds will continue to increase throughout the day and will remain strong for much of Saturday. Rain could continue through Tuesday.

6 a.m.: The eyewall of Hurricane Florence is onshore on North Carolina and landfall is expected soon near Topsail Beach.

5:22 a.m.: More than 550 people are currently in seven shelters in Cumberland County.

5:05 a.m.: Over 8,000 customers are now without power in Wake County.

5 a.m.: The latest update from the National Hurricane Center shows little change to Florence's path or strength. The Category 1 storm has maximum sustained winds of 90 mph and is moving slowly, at 6 mph.

4:49 p.m.: 50 mph wind gusts have been reported in Cumberland County, where some trees are down. Fayetteville could see up to 15 inches of rain and wind gusts up to 80 mph.

Timeline: When and where will Florence be felt?

4:44 a.m.: Isolated tornadoes are likely in our viewing area this morning as Florence narrows in on the coast. Wake County is not yet under a tornado watch, but it will remain under a flash flood watch until 8 p.m. Sunday and a tropical storm warning until further notice.

4:37 a.m.: A whopping 280,000 customers are without power in North Carolina. The highest numbers are being reported in New Hanover County.

4 a.m.: The Triangle is already seeing some strong winds, with gusts of 40 or 45 being reported in Raleigh. "From 8 a.m. to noon, the center will drift inland across southern North Carolina, and that is when we will see the strongest winds," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.

3:39 a.m.: Winds were beginning to pick up in Wake County and about 50 power outages have been reported in Cary, but crews were responding to reports quickly.

3:33 a.m.: The number of power outages reported across the state has actually decreased, with state officials saying 180,096 customers are without power. That number is about 5,000 less than what was reported by state officials an hour ago.