State News

Clouds are only Fay effect felt in Triangle

A high-pressure ridge over the Carolinas keeps the storm pushed to the south, yielding a breezy, seasonable weekend forecast.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — High clouds over the Triangle are courtesy of Fay, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said Friday morning. But those clouds and a light wind remain the only impact on North Carolina from the tropical storm that has soaked Florida for five days.

Fay has dumped more than 2 feet of rain along parts of Florida's low-lying central Atlantic coast, making landfall in the U.S. three times and claiming 25 lives.

The storm continued its slow slog westward toward the Florida panhandle Friday.  At 11 a.m., the storm's center was just west of Gainesville, about 60 miles northeast of Cedar Key and moving west near 5 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Isolated tornadoes were possible in parts of northeastern Florida, southeastern Georgia and southern South Carolina, the National Hurricane Center said.

A high-pressure ridge over the Carolinas is keeping the storm pushed to the south, yielding a breezy, seasonable weekend forecast. Skies should be fair for the kickoff of the high school football season, with game-time temperatures in the low 80s. Overnight, the low temperature drops to the mid-60s.

"The weekend looks good, with a good bit of sunshine," WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said. "What's left of Fay could bring us some rain early or the middle of next week."

President Bush issued a federal disaster declaration Thursday for the affected parts of Florida, as hundreds of residents fled floodwaters that drove alligators and snakes out of their habitats and into streets.

Emergency officials planned to begin surveying damage along the coast Friday as the floodwaters were expected to slowly recede. In Brevard and St. Lucie Counties, residents welcomed the sight of muddy brown water lines on homes – signifying the receding of flood waters.

In Duval County, four key bridges spanning the St. John's River were closed through the night because of high winds. That included two downtown bridges and the eight-lane Buckman Bridge connecting Mandarin and Orange Park.

Brevard County officials gave a preliminary damage estimate of $12 million in Melbourne, mostly from flooding, and $2.6 million from beach erosion.

The outer bands of Fay continued to pour sporadic rains Thursday along the 100-mile Georgia coast, with some areas reporting winds of 20 to 30 mph. The National Weather Service said southern Georgia could see some flooding from 5 to 10 inches of rain as the storm moved west through northern Florida.

A tropical storm watch was posted for the Gulf coast of Florida from the Suwannee River to Indian Pass, in case the storm emerges over water again.