08/13/04 — Charley to bring gusty winds, heavy rain

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Charley to bring gusty winds, heavy rain

By Karinne Young
Published in News on August 13, 2004 2:05 PM

Part two of the August hurricane saga begins later today for North Carolina as rains from a powerful Hurricane Charley begin moving into the state.

Travel over land will likely reduce the hurricane to the strength of a tropical storm, bringing gusty winds around 40 mph and heavy rains to Wayne and Duplin counties on Saturday.

Forecasters predict 3 to 6 inches of rainfall for Wayne County.

There is a slight risk of severe weather, even isolated tornadoes, today between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The risk will be greater beginning late Saturday morning as the storm nears.

Ron Humble, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh said Charley is projected to move into the state just east of Charlotte around sunset Saturday, heading northeast.

As of 9 a.m., the eye of the hurricane was about 75 miles west of Key West, Fla. The storm was moving north at 18 mph. Maximum sustained winds were 110 mph with higher gusts and strengthening was expected. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 30 miles and tropical storm force winds extend to 125 miles. The storm was expected to become a Category 3 before making landfall in Florida.

In advance of the storm, Wayne County Emergency Management officials are asking residents to monitor weather broadcasts for watches or warnings.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base began evacuating its F-15E fighters to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

Wayne County officials are taking a "wait and see" approach with the hurricane.

As of this morning, forecasts call for Wayne County to receive heavy rain, beginning at 5 p.m. today and continuing through Saturday evening, said Emergency Services Director Joe Gurley.

Residents need to watch for flash flooding and should not try to drive on roads with moving water, he said.

Although county officials are not expecting heavy damage, they will continue to monitor reports, Gurley said. A skeleton crew will staff the emergency operations center; more people will be brought in, if needed, he said.

People should plan to stay in safe locations Saturday, Gurley said. "Hopefully, we'll just have a rainy afternoon at home."

This morning's forecast path would take the center of Charley across the middle of the state Saturday afternoon into early evening, bringing gusty winds and heavy rain.

However, the track is still uncertain and any change could have a significant effect on conditions in Wayne County.

The risk of flash flooding is also strong and motorists are advised to avoid trying to drive through standing water, especially at night. The National Weather Service said water depth may be too great to allow a vehicle to cross safety. As little as a foot of water can float most vehicles.

Wayne is included in a flood watch issued today at 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. Saturday. Additional rainfall amounts of 3-6 inches or more are possible. The News-Argus weather station measured .9 inch through 8 a.m. this morning. The Neuse River at Goldsboro measured 4.43 feet this morning. The river overflows its banks at 14 feet.

On the current forecast track, Wayne can expect southeast winds around 20 mph beginning early Saturday morning, increasing to 30 to 40 mph with higher gusts later in the afternoon.

Besides periods of heavy rain, there is also the threat of thunderstorms, some of which could be severe, and isolated tornadoes beginning tonight through Sunday morning.