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Flash-Flood Watches Canceled As Rain Moves Out Of State

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The last band of rain from the western part of the state moved to the northeast late Tuesday, and flash-flood watches in effect for more than two days were canceled.

At one time, more than 24 counties were under the watch, in which average total rainfall amounts were forecast to be 2 to 4 inches with amounts totaling up to 5 inches in some areas.

  • Photos:

    Alberto Flooding

    There were no immediate reports of problems related to Tuesday's rains in the Triangle area, but high wind and downpours battered the coastline, and the National Weather Service warned of high wind, with sustained winds of at least 40 mph and gusts up to 58 mph, in Carteret, Craven and Pamlico counties through the afternoon. Tornado warnings were issued for parts of Carteret, Hyde and Beaufort counties.

    Radar indicated "a pretty strong circulation" as the storm's core passed onto land near the town of Atlantic, north of the Bogue Banks, but no one in the sparsely populated area reported seeing a twister, meteorologist Kevin Laws in the weather service's Morehead City office said.

    June has been a record-breaking month for rain in the Triangle. Readings at Raleigh-Durham International Airport showed 9.87 inches of rain so far this month -- more than seven inches from the remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto on June 14.

    Although no immediate flooding was reported, areas affected by Tropical Storm Alberto's remnants on June 14 made preparations for worst-possible-case scenarios.

    Lower parking decks at Crabtree Valley Mall that are prone to flooding were blocked off and sand bags, plastic tarps and duct tape were on hand should flooding be an issue again. Flooding forced the mall to close on June 14 and caused damage to several cars and stores. Two stores still have not reopened.

    At Lake Johnson, where Alberto's remnants damaged the spillway that catches excessive water that runs over the dam, five water pumps are on hand to lower water levels. Four were brought in after the June 14 flooding and a fifth brought in this week.

    "It's a serious amount of water in that lake, and we're just barely staying ahead of the game," said David Weir with the City of Raleigh Utilities.

    Car dealerships, some of which are still recovering, moved their inventory to higher ground.

    "We don't take any chances at all. We move them." said Lex Depp, general sales manager of Thompson Cadillac. "We're hoping that this is not going to be a sign of the whole year."

    Back to the coast, strong surf resulting from the storms churned up killer rip currents. Rescuers pulled dozens of beachgoers out of the water over the weekend, including more than 40 people on Wrightsville Beach alone.

    Forecasters said dangerous swimming conditions would continue through Thursday, caused by strong thunderstorms off the southeastern U.S. coast.

    In the western part of the state, flooding forced some people out of their homes. Gov. Mike Easley opened three emergency shelters in Rutherford and Henderson counties.

    High water also forced authorities to close a stretch of U.S. Highway 64 between Bat Cave and Hendersonville.

    The 2-foot-deep creek that normally falls behind Kathy Morgan's home in the Henderson County community of Bat Cave was rushing over its banks in 8-foot waves Monday. There were no reports of serious injuries.

    "Those are boulders getting rolled by the river," Morgan said as she listened to the noise rise from the brown torrent that hours earlier was Hickory Creek.

    The high water forced more than 200 people to evacuate homes and campgrounds in the Hickory Nut Gorge area southeast of Asheville. Three people were rescued when their car hydroplaned into the Broad River near Bat Cave.

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