08/12/04 — Wayne wary as storms approach

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Wayne wary as storms approach

By Karinne Young
Published in News on August 12, 2004 2:02 PM

Wayne County may catch a small break despite the two tropical storms moving across the state over the next three days.

Bonnie's path has shifted farther west, meaning less rain for Wayne tonight. But Charley will probably make up the difference later.

Residents may remember a 1999 scenario that left most of the county under water when Hurricane Floyd brought pounding rains to land already water-logged by Tropical Storm Dennis.

Still, the area is under a flash flood watch until noon Friday because of Tropical Storm Bonnie. The watch may be extended or issued again as Hurricane Charley moves in overnight Friday. The National Weather Service in Raleigh said the county could receive as much as 8 inches of rain over the next two days because of both storms.

The Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross has contacted its volunteers to make sure they will be ready to go in case local shelters need to be opened.

Teresa Williams, disaster services director, said the chapter has "made contingency plans so all we have to do is make one call to activate our volunteers."

A cold front that would have pushed Tropical Storm Bonnie farther east is having trouble getting past the mountains. That means Bonnie's path across the Tarheel state has moved farther west, lessening the amount of rain here.

The same is true in the case of Hurricane Charley, which is now expected to charge up the Interstate 95 corridor. Charley will also spend more time moving over Florida instead of the coastal waters of the Atlantic. That will take a bite out of the wind speed. But it puts Wayne County on the side of the storm carrying the most precipitation.

Because forecasters can only predict where they expect storms to go, Wayne County residents should still continue to monitor weather forecasts for any changes.

As of 8 this morning, Bonnie had strengthened slightly with maximum sustained winds of 55 mph. It was moving toward the northeast at 22 mph. Rain from Bonnie was to begin falling this afternoon and continue through the night.

Charley, which could be a Category 3 hurricane by landfall, was packing maximum sustained winds of 85 mph as it moved northwest at 16 mph. It was expected to move onto the west Florida coast late Friday, travel up the state, crossing the lower Georgia coast and cutting across South Carolina overnight Friday.

Wayne will feel the affects of its rain before that, and the storm will cross the eastern half of the state during the day Saturday.

Forecasters warn that, besides rain, Bonnie brings a threat of isolated tornadoes along and east of its track. The threat is due to a shift in upper-level winds.

Beginning Friday morning in Wayne and through late Saturday, Charley will cause periods of very heavy rain, with 2 to 4 inches or more likely. It is also predicted to have isolated thunderstorms and steady southeast winds at 25 to 35 mph, with higher gusts.

On Sunday, it will seem to be a different world, with mostly sunny skies, a slight chance of rain and highs in the lower 80s.