Weather

Storms cause flooding on Triangle roads

Posted May 27, 2011 1:35 p.m. EDT
Updated May 27, 2011 6:28 p.m. EDT

— The remnants of a storm system that ravaged the Midwest earlier this week brought heavy rain to central North Carolina Friday afternoon, causing flooding throughout the Triangle.

A flash flood watch covers more than 20 counties, including Chatham, Durham and Wake, until 6 a.m. Saturday. 

"There is still the potential for locally heavy rains," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. 

Fishel said an estimated 5 inches of rain fell in Chapel Hill on Friday afternoon prompting some street closures due to high water. 

Chapel Hill police said Franklin Street was closed briefly. Water was also reported on South Estes and Fordham roads. Chapel Hill's public transportation temporarily detoured the F and J routes due to the weather. 

"It was pretty wild. Before you knew it, it was starting with a little bit of rain. You heard a loud crack and the heavens let loose," said Deidre Cotterill, who was at work at the Franklin Hotel when the storms started. 

An interactive look at driving in flood waters

Durham restaurant floods

In Durham, police closed University Drive, between Woodridge and Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard, for several hours. Flooding was also reported in the 1200 block of North Alston Avenue. 

Employees at Nana's Restaurant on University Drive said they had to leave the restaurant because of flooding. Backed-up water from a drain caused the restaurant and nearby businesses to flood during a storm two weeks ago.

Scotty Howell, who owns Nana's and the Rockwood Building on University Avenue, said it was the worst flooding he has ever seen in the area. He said he is concerned that part of the Rockwood Building will collapse because it is built on a culvert. 

"I'm worried about the foundation collapsing. We already rebuilt the foundation out front, but I've never seen water come out of it like that before," Howell said. 

Whitney O'Brian, a manager of a hair salon in the Rockwood Building, told WRAL News that the floors were coming up.

"The floor in our salon actually came up and exploded. So, it kind of looks like a roof in there right now with water coming out of the floor," O'Brian said. 

O'Brian said she and others evacuated the salon within about five minutes. Firefighters evacuated the rest of the building. 

Authorities said there was up to 8 inches of water inside the Rockwood Building. 

Firefighters said they are also concerned about part of University Drive giving way and a power pole falling.

Tips for driving in flood waters

In Fuquay-Varina, downtown shop owner Jim Neely said about a foot of water covered the streets Friday afternoon. 

"Water just rose up and everything here just flooded," he said. "It was over the sidewalk and coming up to the steps, and it all just happened very quickly." 

WRAL viewers reported that large hail fell in Fuquay-Varina and Apex in Wake County. Heavy hail accumulated on lawns in Oxford in Granville County.

The heavy downpour forced the delay of sporting events across the area. Play was expected to resume Friday evening at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park where the ACC Baseball Tournament is taking place. At WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, two high school girls state championship soccer games were delayed.

See severe weather in your area? Send us your storm photos, videos

Power outages, travel delays

Progress Energy reported that more than 10,600 customers in Wake County were without power. Most of the outages are in Raleigh and Apex. Duke Energy reported 200 outages in Durham County. 

Authorities at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport said flights have not been canceled but there are delays. Travelers should contact their airlines to find out specific delay information. 

Storms possible Saturday

Thunderstorms could pop up through Friday evening. The best chance for storms is from the Triangle west.

On Saturday, both central and eastern North Carolina will have a shot at storms.

"East of the Triangle is where the best chance of rain will be tomorrow," Fishel said. 

 The chance of storms will recede on Sunday.

The daily highs will reach around 86 degrees Friday, 83 degrees Saturday and 88 degrees Sunday – still above normal but a relief from a four-day string of 90-plus degree highs.

The 90s, though, will likely make their return on Memorial Day.