Maze: Friday's storm threat comes in two waves

Thursday will be calm before a strong storm system moves in Friday, bringing damaging winds and large hail.

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Mike Maze, WRAL meteorologist,
Adam Owens, WRAL reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina is on the watch for rain most of the day Friday and the chance for some severe weather as well. WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze says to anticipate two waves of severe storms – one around midday and another during the evening.

"We'll start to see a little light rain through morning commute," he said.

Thunderstorms could strike at any time through the bulk of the daylight hours. The National Weather Service shows a 90% chance for precipitation in Raleigh between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The Triangle is under a level 3 (of 5) warning for severe weather, qualified as an "Enhanced Risk." According to Maze, that means the severe thunderstorms that are likely to be more numerous and persistent and last longer than average. A few of the storms may be more intense.

What Maze called "the main event" is a massive line of storms that will stretch out parallel to the eastern seaboard. The worst of the winds and rain will be over central North Carolina between about 3 and 8 p.m.

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"During that time period, we could see damaging wind gusts and embedded tornadoes. That means any tornadoes that form will be embedded in the line of storms rather than ahead of them," he said.

The system moving in on Friday has already produced tornados, wind damage and hail from Texas to Missouri.

“This storm system definitely has a history of producing severe weather,” meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. “It’s certainly looking like a very dangerous evening for us.

“It is a mean-looking line,” Gardner said. “Lots and lots of lightning as it’s moving across the country.”

North Carolina was at a level two, or a slight risk, when storms brought flooding and a tornado to central parts of the state last weekend.

Areas west of the Triangle are at a level two risk in Friday’s storms.

The system will continue moving east throughout Friday night. Strong rain could continue even after the storms move out.

Communities prepare for flooding threat

With rain in the forecast for almost a full 24 hours, cities in central and eastern North Carolina are eyeing the waterways and preparing for the potential for flooding.

Water releases from Falls Dam are being decreased to ease the threat to communities downstream.

"We have been releasing floodwaters for a few days," said Carol Banaitis, operations manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Today, we started dialing back on that. Tomorrow we will dial back a little bit more in anticipation of Friday's storms."

She says the lake is now around five feet higher than normal, causing flooding in some recreational areas.

Around Jordan Lake, recreational areas and campgrounds are already underwater in some places, flooded by previous heavy rain events.

Paul Badzik took advantage of the high water for fast kayak trip.

“Two days ago, it was into the parking lot ... that is how high the water was,” he said.

In the City of Raleigh, crews know where the trouble spots are. All week, they worked to clear debris from storm drains along Crabtree Creek. That will allow them to quickly collect storm water to prevent flooding.

Experts suggest that property owners do the same and checking drains near their own homes.

High water? Don't drive

And public safety officials reiterated the "Turn Around, Don't Drown" driving warnings.

  • Avoid driving through flooded areas, even if they seem shallow. Just one foot of water can float many vehicles, while two feet of rushing water can carry away SUVs and pick-ups.
  • After driving through a puddle, tap your brake pedal to help dry your brake rotors.
  • If your car starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, apply the brakes in a steady, slightly firm manner without stomping and steer in the direction of the skid. If you have a manual transmission, push in the clutch and let the car slow down on its own.
  • If the rain is extremely heavy, pull over in a safe area in a parking lot or on the roadside with your emergency flashers on, away from any trees or other tall objects, and wait for the weather to improve.
  • Allow more travel time.
  • Turn on your low beam headlights and use the defroster to increase visibility.
  • If possible, stay in the middle lane where the road tends to be higher.
  • Reduce your speed by at least five to 10 miles per hour and allow at least twice the normal following distance.
  • Signal for turns ahead of time and brake early as you near a stop. Remember, roads are slickest in the first 10 to 15 minutes, especially if it has not rained for a while.
  • If a traffic signal is knocked out by a storm, regard the intersection as a four-way stop. If two or more vehicles arrive at the same time, the car to the right has the right of way and after signaling, may move in any direction. If two facing vehicles approach the intersection at the same time, any car traveling straight ahead or turning right has the right of way.

Weekend will be quieter

Saturday and Sunday will be much calmer, with partly cloudy skies both days.

Saturday will be cooler, with an expected high of 66 degrees.

7-Day Forecast

Easter Sunday will have temperatures hovering near 70.

Temperatures climb back to the low 80s on Monday.


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