Tornado watch issued for several eastern N.C. counties

Posted September 29, 2010 5:22 a.m. EDT
Updated September 29, 2010 11:23 p.m. EDT

— The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for Cumberland, Edgecombe, Halifax, Johnston, Nash, Sampson, Wayne and Wilson counties until 7 a.m. Thursday.

The watch comes as coastal dwellers braced for more drenching rains and possible flooding from a strong low-pressure system.

"The rain potential for the Triangle is 3 to 4 inches, and rainfall totals along the coast could be anywhere from 6 to 8 inches," WRAL Meteorologist Mike Maze said.

On Wednesday afternoon, authorities said a state of emergency has been issued for New Hanover County. Emergency Management director Warren Lee said that county could receive between seven and 14 inches of rain overall between Wednesday night and Thursday night. Shelters also opened in New Hanover and Brunswick counties but only 7 people had checked in as of 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Portions of N.C. 133 in Brunswick County also were closed because water covered the road and made driving hazardous, authorities said.

In Wilmington, a steady rain fell Wednesday, and high water was reported on several roads and parts of New Centre Drive were closed to traffic.

Most of the rain falling between Wednesday night and Thursday morning will soak the eastern part of the state, but inland areas will also get their share.

Flash flood advisories are in effect for much of central and eastern North Carolina until 6 p.m. Thursday.

In Raleigh, residents were preparing late Wednesday for the possibility of flooding.

Ganour Abderrahin lives in the Brookhill Townhouse Apartments along Walnut Creek. He has been through several floods in the past and is worried the creek could rise again.

“I have to take my cars from here and lift up the furniture because in 2006 I lost a lot of things,” Abderrahin said. “I don't want that to happen to me again.”

A dealership off Wake Forest Road also cleared the cars out early in case of high waters.

Wake County Emergency Management Director Josh Creighton said people in flood prone areas should pay close attention to rainfall amounts throughout the night.

“Make a plan in case they have to evacuate, make contact a head of time with a neighbor or a family friend, somewhere they can go if they feel like they have to evacuate,” Creighton said.

Schools to open on delay

Some school systems are planning to open late Thursday in preparation of standing water on roads.

Cumberland, Edgecombe, Franklin, Harnett, Johnston and Sampson County schools will operate on a two-hour delay for students and staff.