Weather

Flood warning extended, water rescues reported in Edgecombe County

Posted November 12, 2020 5:44 a.m. EST
Updated November 13, 2020 11:00 a.m. EST

With roads still closed due to flooding and water rescues underway near Rocky Mount, the National Weather Service has extended a flood warning for the viewing area, including the Triangle, until 3:45 p.m.

Water rescues were reported in Pinetops in Edgecombe County on Friday near Bynum Farm Road. WRAL News was working to learn more details.

On Thursday, multiple deaths were reported across the state, and as much as 10 inches of rain fell in some spots.

A Raleigh woman died in a car wreck on Interstate 40 near Rock Quarry Road, and a Rolesville child drowned in a flooded creek. Rolesville police found the body of the child in a creek near the 5700 block of Lord Granville Way.

In Alexander County, WCNC reports that three people have been found dead and two remain missing.

On Thursday, flooding prompted school systems to cancel in-person classes or send students home early, and Halifax, Harnett, Johnston and Wilson County Schools will attend classes virtually on Friday due to the weather.

Schools delayed or closed on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020

The flooding obstructed parts of more than 300 roads across North Carolina and a stretch of Interstate 95 between Smithfield and Kenly will remain closed until 5 p.m. on Friday.

In Clayton, the Neuse River could reach major flood stage Friday morning. At one point, the area around East Clayton Elementary School was flooded, and parts of Covered Bridge Road could flood if the river crests.

The Tar River is in moderate flood stage and could crest in the next six hours. The Cape Fear River is in minor flood stage and is forecast to reach moderate flood stage Saturday and crest through the day Saturday as well.

What to know:

  • Most of the viewing area, including the Triangle, is under a flash flood warning until 3:45 p.m. on Friday. View all alerts
  • Halifax, Harnett, Johnston and Wilson County Schools will attend classes virtually on Friday due to the weather.
  • In an emergency press conference at 2 p.m., North Carolina officials urged people do stay off the roads until Friday. They encouraged people to remain cautious around rivers over the weekend, as several major rivers are expected to crest over the next 48 hours.

Helpful links: View all active weather alerts | Track the rain with the DualDoppler5000

The latest:

12:00 a.m.: Johnston County has announced classes will be virtual on Friday, joining Halifax, Harnett and Wilson. Some community colleges are also delaying or canceling classes.

10:45 p.m.: Although the rain has passed, the Flood Warning has been extended for multiple counties, including Wake, Durham, Orange and Johnston. Due to continued flooding from heavy rain, the National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning for many central and eastern counties of NC until 8:45 a.m. on Friday morning.

10:00 p.m.: A Flood Warning has been issued for Harnett County from 10:18 p.m. on Thursday until 7:33 a.m. Sunday.

The Cape Fear River at Lillington is expected to rise above flood stage late this evening to a crest of 18.1 feet tomorrow morning.

9:00 p.m.: All southbound lanes of Interstate 95 have reopened at Exit 121 (I-795/U.S.264) near Wilson, following earlier flooding. However, I-95 northbound is not expected to open until 5 p.m. on Friday.

Harnett, Halifax and Wilson counties will hold virtual classes on Friday due to flooding.

8:00 p.m.: Halifax, Harnett and Wilson counties will have virtual classes on Friday as a result of the weather and flooding.

7:00 p.m.: A tree has fallen across Redwood Drive in Durham. Officials are warning people of the danger of fallen trees, as well as floods and downed power lines.

Trees have fallen in some places in the Triangle

6:45 p.m.: As the sun goes down, officials said they are concerned about people driving after dark, as the low visibility makes it difficult to see where roads are flooded – or even completely washed out.

A road in Cabarrus County buckled and washed away during the flooding on Thursday. Similarly, a segment of I-95 buckled in one place between Wilson and Rocky Mount.

Officials also warn dark water could hide power lines underneath, or unknown depths. If at all possible, they encourage people to stay home tonight and avoid the roads – and to not allow children to play near floodwaters.

6:30 p.m.: Water rescue on Holly Springs Road as sedan gets trapped in floodwaters.

6:15 p.m.: Harnett County Schools will attend classes virtually on Friday due to the weather.

6:00 p.m.: Even as the bulk of the rain finally begins to move out, many roads are still flooded around the state. Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said, "We have roadways with water running across them. We're working with the NC DOT and Highway Patrol. We've got roadways that are impassable. Folks, be careful."

5:45 p.m.: Images of vehicles peeking out from beneath flood waters in Charlotte shared on Twitter show the extent of the historic flooding taking place there.

Cars beneath flood waters in Charlotte.

5:30 p.m.: Among the deaths and water rescues from flooding around North Carolina on Thursday, nearly 150 people were rescued from a school due to historic flooding in Charlotte.

In Mecklenburg County 63 roads are closed due to flooding, and there have been at least 100 calls for help from people in flood conditions.

5:15 p.m.: The latest Flood Stage Forecast for NC rivers shows the Tar River in Rocky Mount at moderate, with it cresting tonight. The Tar River in Tarboro is at moderate and could crest tomorrow.

In Louisburg, it's at minor and will crest tomorrow.

The Neuse River is at major in Goldsboro, Clayton and Smithfield and forecast to crest anytime tomorrow through Saturday depending on the location.

Full river forecast here.

5:00 p.m. Rainfall totals in the past 48 hours have reached nearly 10 inches in Rocky Mount, nearly 8 inches in Pine Level, 7 inches in Wilson, 6.5 inches in Willow Spring and 5.5 inches in Fayetteville.

Some viewers said their rain gauge showed upwards of 12 inches.

4:30 p.m.: WRAL's Mark Boyle reported I-95 buckled in one place between Wilson and Rocky Mount.

Rocky Mount experienced more than 9 inches of rain over the last 48 hours, according to WRAL meteorologist Kat Campbell. That was among the highest measurements in the region.

Some exits along I-95 near Rocky Mount remain closed by the flooding, North Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman Jamie Kritzer told WRAL's Boyle.

4 p.m.: Interstate 95 is closed near Rocky Mount. All northbound lanes are closed near Smithfield at Exit 102 (Micro Road), due to flooding.

North Carolina Department of Transportation earlier closed all lanes of I-95 in both directions near Wilson near Exit 121 (I-795/US-264). That closure is expected to last into Friday morning.

WRAL's Bryan Mims reported that more than two dozen people needed to be evacuated from an apartment complex in Selma, where flood waters rose above the bumpers of cars in the parking lot.

In Harnett County, public school officials announced that all classes will be moved online on Friday.

In Garner, police reported that Lake Benson is overflowing onto Buffaloe Road near Highway 50.

3:30 p.m.: WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze reported that Thursday's weather was the result of the ninth tropical system to hit North Carolina this year.

As Maze spoke, the National Weather Service canceled its Flash Flood Watch for Wake County.

3:15 p.m.: WRAL's Amanda Lamb reports rain waters are flooding New Hill Road in Holly Springs.

WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze showed flash flood warnings in the eastern North Carolina. Maze said the consistent rain is moving east and will likely leave the central part of the state in time for the evening commute.

However, the roads are expected to still be slick and dangerous for the remainder of the night.

WRAL meteorologist Kat Campbell predicted major rivers such as the Neuse and Tar rivers are likely to crest over the next couple days. The Cape Fear is expected to crest on Saturday.

3:00 p.m.: WRAL's Kat Campbell warned commuters to watch out for standing water during their evening commute, even as the rain starts to dissipate.

WRAL's Mark Boyle reports that a car is trapped in flood waters near Cary's Crossroads shopping mall. Chris Knox, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Safety, spoke with WRAL's Boyle by phone to discuss road conditions in eastern North Carolina.

"Just because the rain stops does not mean the danger isn't still real," Knox said.

WRAL's Bryan Mims, reporting from Selma, showed flood waters rising in the parking lot of a local apartment complex.

2:45 p.m.: WRAL's Joe Fisher reports the child missing in Rolesville has been found dead. Fisher is on-scene in Rolesville where police are meeting with the child's family.

2:30 p.m.: WRAL's Mike Maze says residents in central North Carolina can expect the rain to die down to a drizzle soon, while the most intense downpours to move their way to North Carolina's coast.

Rivers will continue to rise and possibly flood even after the rain stops, Maze said.

WRAL's Kat Campbell reported that, over the past 48 hours, there have been more than 9 inches of rain at the airport near Rocky Mount and Wilson.

2:15 p.m.: In a press conference, state officials said North Carolina drivers should stay off the roads all day Thursday unless they absolutely must go somewhere. Emergency rescue workers have had to save people trapped by flood waters, officials said.

Rolesville police say they're searching for a child reported missing near a creek. The child was last seen near 5700 block of Lord Granville Way.

WRAL's Bryan Mims reports that Selma is home to the most 9-1-1 calls in Johnston County. Selma Police Chief Billy Thomas called WRAL's Mark Boyle to ask residents to stay off the roads.

2:00 p.m.: WRAL's Mike Maze says conditions are improving in the western part of the state. Eastern counties, however, still have up to three hours of rain remaining in the forecast.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation reported that I-95 is closed in both directions near Wilson, around Exit 121. The department expects the highway to reopen by 5:00 a.m.

1:30 p.m.: The Tar River in Rocky Mount is rising quickly, where numerous water rescues have been reported. Rocky Mount has seen almost 9 inches of rain in the past 24 hours, more than any other community in the viewing area. U.S. 301 was especially flooded at Tarboro Road, where the highway looked more like a river.

1:00 p.m.: WRAL Bryan Mims is monitoring conditions in Wilson, where multiple roads are still blocked due to standing water. The county said first responders have rescued at least 20 families that tried to drive through floodwaters since Wednesday.

In Raleigh, fewer roads are flooded, but streets are still wet and dangerous. A crash on I-40 West has slowed traffic at Exit 287 for Aviation Parkway. Heavy delays were reported in the area.

Three cars were involved in a crash on I-40 West near U.S. 1 in Cary. No one appeared to be injured.

12:45 p.m.: WRAL Aimee Wilmoth said the back edge of the rain is nearing the Triad, and the line of heaviest rain will be in our eastern counties around 2 p.m. The bulk of the rain should be out of central North Carolina by 3 or 4 p.m.

The Storm Prediction Center canceled a severe risk for most of the viewing area, so gusty winds, tornadoes and hail are no longer a major concern.

12:30 p.m.: At St. David's, a private school on White Oak Road in Raleigh, Coach Dan Casey tweeted a photo of a flooded football field. The school is scheduled to host a state playoff game Friday night.

More than 5,000 customers are without power in North Carolina, according to Duke Energy. Rather than being clustered in one area, outages are scattered throughout the state.

12:15 p.m.: Cumberland and Wake counties are dismissing schools two hours early as flooding persists across the viewing area. Harnett County announced it will close schools at 1 p.m.

12:00 p.m.: Jamie Kritzer with the N.C. Department of Transportation said 160 road closures have been reported statewide, and they've been building throughout the day. He urged drivers to respect barricades and signs blocking flooded roads and reminded them to never drive through standing water. It's a good idea to travel 10 mph slower than the speed limit when roads are wet, he said, and keep an extra distance between cars.

11:45 a.m.: In western North Carolina, it was a scary moment for a FOX 46 reporter in Alexander County when she was standing on the Hiddenite Bridge right before it collapsed. The frightening moment was captured live on air.

11:30 a.m.: At Crabtree Creek near Wake Forest Road in Raleigh, which usually floods during heavy rain events, the creek is already rising and a caution sign is alerting drivers for possible road flooding. A Honda dealership was moving some of its vehicles to higher ground in preparation for possible flooding.

Wake County deputies are also responding to some reports of power outages and fallen trees. Trees are down at Bells Lake Road and Johnson Pond Road near Fuquay-Varina, and a stoplight is out at N.C. Highway 42 and Rock Service Station Road. Standing water was also reported at at 730 Ferrell Road in Knightdale.

11:00 a.m.: Nia Harden is in the Storm Tracker checking out road conditions across the Triangle, where most roads are seeing some ponding. WRAL Elizabeth Gardner said our southern counties have now been added to the flash flood warning as a band of heavy rain approaches those areas.

10:45 a.m.: Even in Fayetteville, which escaped much of the flooding, a neighborhood is flooded on Bombay Drive where a creek overflowed. The City of Fayetteville has placed road barricades on Bombay Drive, Ray Avenue at Cross Creek, Orange Street, Devonshire Drive, NC-53 and Englewood Drive, near the Ann Street Bridge and on L A Dunham Road due to rising waters. Cumberland County is now under a flash flood warning until 4:30 p.m.

Bombay Drive in Fayetteville

10:30 a.m.: When will the rain start to taper off today? WRAL Zach Maloch said our western counties, including Orange, Durham and Person, should see the rain coming to an end by 4 p.m. In Raleigh and Cary, it will taper off closer to 5 p.m.

The bulk of the rain should be out of the area completely overnight, with just a stray shower possible early Friday. A total of 1-3 more inches of rain could fall over the next 3-4 hours, Maloch said.

Meteorologists are closely watching the Neuse River, which could be at moderate flood stage in Goldsboro by Friday. The Neuse could be at moderate flood stage in Smithfield and Clayton by Thursday night.

10:15 a.m.: On Fountain Drive in southeast Raleigh, Walnut Creek overflowed its banks, flooding the bottoms of several cars parked in the community. The road has been blocked off to traffic.

A homeowner who lives at the bottom of a hill in the community told WRAL Amanda Lamb water entered her home but it is starting to recede. She said this happens often in heavy rain events and she has gotten used to it.

Founain Drive in southeast Raleigh

New crashes have been reported on major Raleigh routes, including on I-40 East at Rock Quarry Road and on I-440 E near Hillsborough Street and Wade Avenue. Flash flooding was also reported on Lake Boone Trail near I-440.

While school days have not changed in the Triangle, Wake County Public Schools announced food distribution to students learning remotely has been canceled Thursday due to inclement weather.

10 a.m.: Conditions are also poor in western North Carolina, where water rescues are underway. The Conover Fire Department tweeted a group of 15 to 20 campers were trapped at the Hiddenite Family Campground.

According to WCNC Charlotte, Duke Energy estimated nearly 2,500 people were without power in Catawba County due to the storms. The station reports 143 people were evacuated from Corvian Community Elementary School in Charlotte because of floodwaters.

In Charlotte, I-85 looked more like a river at one point Thursday morning. A record was broken near uptown Charlotte, where Little Sugar Creek recorded a record crest of 15.2 feet, the highest it's been since 1997.

Storms and heavy rain will continue to move eastward, and Gardner said "the situation will only get worse" Thursday. Anywhere from 1-2 inches of rain could fall per hour.

Conditions continue to be worst east of Raleigh, where U.S. Highway 301 in Rocky Mount and Old Route 22 in Kenly are flooded.

9:45 a.m.: More than 7 inches of rain have already fallen in the Rocky Mount, and at least 3 inches fell in the Triangle. On Thursday, isolated heavy downpours will continue to drop another 2 to 5 inches across the state.

9 a.m.: A flash flood warning is in effect for the Triangle and Sandhills, including Wake County, until 2:15 p.m. Flash flooding can occur unexpectedly from heavy downpours, flooding roads and making for dangerous driving conditions.

8:30 a.m.: While rain is expected to be heaviest northeast of Raleigh, the Triangle is also at risk for flash flooding and road closures all day Thursday. "We're especially worried about folks around the Interstate 95 corridor," Gardner said. "We could see flooding anywhere but that's going to be where it's most likely."

Rain-related crashes and road closures

In the Triangle, weather-related crashes slowed traffic on U.S. Interstate 1 near Ten Ten Road in Apex and on Interstate 440 near Glenwood Avenue Thursday morning. East of the Triangle, cars were getting stuck in floodwaters, and major routes like U.S. Highway 301 were blocked in spots.

Gardner said the rain will be heaviest Thursday morning, throughout lunchtime and for most of the afternoon, with conditions improving by 5 p.m.

There was a small lull in the rain Thursday morning, but Gardner said another large band of rain is expected to be problematic through the late morning and early afternoon.

There's also a risk for severe weather Thursday afternoon, when gusty winds and isolated tornadoes are possible.

Crashes are likely to be numerous throughout the Triangle for the Thursday commute as drivers navigate wet roads.

Pay attention to flooded streets and closed roads and do not try to drive around barricades.

"Do not drive your car into floodwaters," Gardner said. "Avoid them at all costs."

Cooler, drier weather ahead

Cooler temperatures and drier conditions are ahead for Friday and the weekend.

There could be a few showers left over Friday morning, but the day will be dry overall. Fall weather will return Saturday and Sunday, which will be sunny and much cooler, with highs in the mid to upper 60s.

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