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Night of downpours follows day of record rain

Rain prompted flood warnings into early Thursday in several Triangle counties, but forecasters say things should be more moderate as the storm that was Fay works its way away from North Carolina.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Heavy rain pounded down on several areas around the Triangle Wednesday night, flooding streets and some homes and making a hard time for emergency workers.

The forecast, however, said overnight showers and Thursday rain should be less intense.

"We should see much more isolated rain activity late tonight and during the day tomorrow," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said Wednesday night. "We certainly don’t expect a repeat of what we saw today.”

Wednesday night's rains, compliments of a low-pressure system that once was called Tropical Storm Fay and that lay west of the state, brought flooded streets in Lee, Chatham and Durham counties.

The National Weather Service posted flash-flood warnings for Durham, Orange and Chatham counties until 1:30 a.m. Thursday. The service posted warnings for Wake and Harnett counties until 3:15 a.m.

Durham officials reported major flooding at Milton Road and North Roxboro Street and at Mason Road and Roxboro. The intersections of Roxboro Street at Milton Road and Latta Road at Lockhaven Drive were both closed due to flooding. Horton Road North was also reportedly flooded. The intersection of Horton and Hillandale roads were flooded as well as the intersection of Hillandale Road and Pine Creek.

They posted signs warning drivers where water covered roads, though the flooding had begun to recede by early Thursday.

Volunteer observers told the weather service that Cabin Creek was well over its banks. There also was a report that a pond dam had failed near Tracey Trail Road, off U.S. Highway 501 near the Eden Lake subdivision.

Durham officials said a driver was rescued from a vehicle on Cheshire Bridge Road. Fire crews and Durham sheriff's deputies also were taking care of other people stuck when they tried to drive through flooded streets.

In Chatham County, Old Siler City Road, Old Graham Road, Siler-City-Snow Camp Road, Hamlet's Chapel Road and some portions of N.C. Highway 87 North were flooded Wednesday night.

Flooding in Lee County continued into the evening hours Wednesday. There were reports of major flooding at Still Bridge and Colon roads, officials said. Amos Bridges Road and Hawkins Avenue near U.S. Highway 1 were flooded. Along Hawkins Avenue near U.S. Highway 1 some businesses reported water.

In Sanford, the on and off ramps from U.S. Highway 1 to U.S. Highway 15-501 were closed due to high water, police said Wednesday night.

Wednesday afternoon, authorities in counties from Chatham east to Wilson and from Franklin south to Sampson reported sighting funnel clouds.

Gov. Mike Easley ordered damage-assessment teams to Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties, which suffered significant flooding. Jarema said most of the severe problems with flooding appeared to be in those counties.

“Even though most of the rain is past, there is still a chance of flash flooding in low-lying areas near rivers and creeks, so people need to be aware of their surroundings and heed the warnings of local emergency officials,” Easley said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

Funnel clouds spotted

Multiple reports of funnel clouds were reported at Old Oxford Road and Hebron Road in Durham, officials said Wednesday night.

Two state troopers reported seeing rotation in the clouds over Chatham County around 1:25 p.m. One sighting was north of Gulf, and the second was near Highway 401, just south of Pittsboro. Chatham County deputies reported numerous instances of funnel clouds forming and dispersing.

At 1:50 p.m., local law enforcement reported a tornado over New Hope, 12 miles south of Nashville. It was moving north at 15 mph toward Nashville and Rocky Mount.

A law enforcement officer and spotter reported a funnel cloud near U.S. Highway 264 and Interstate 95 in Wilson. Motorist Jim Brewer told WRAL News the funnel cloud was extremely black as he was driving by it.

A law enforcement officer saw a tornado touch down near Highway 42 and Lloyd Road around 1:25 p.m. A second agent saw a tornado on the ground at Covered Bridge and Thanksgiving Fire roads. Multiple trees were down in the road, he said.

David Bonsall, of Wilson, said he saw rotation in the clouds over his backyard, but did not see the rotation touch down on land.

“It got real windy. It rained real hard,” Bonsall said.

Derrick Duggins, of Johnston County Emergency Services, said minor damage has been reported in the county.

Emergency drills

In western Chatham County, some schools dismissed students early when tornadoes threatened. Others were locked down, with students waiting in hallways until the danger passed.

When Wake County was under a tornado warning, many county schools held emergency drills, said Greg Thomas, a spokesman for the Wake County Public School System.

Heating up

As the remnants of Fay move out, the Triangle will dry out and heat up.

Thursday's high will be around 83 degrees, but on Friday, rainfall will be more isolated, and the mercury will get up to 88 degrees.

Saturday will likely be completely dry, and temperatures will break into the low 90s.