06/14/06 — Alberto brings rain, tornado warnings, to Wayne

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Alberto brings rain, tornado warnings, to Wayne

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on June 14, 2006 1:52 PM

Wayne County residents can expect flood and tornado watches to accompany the steady rain expected to fall today.

Remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto, which passed through Florida on Tuesday, is expected to bring 30 mph wind gusts and up to four inches of rain in some parts of eastern North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service.

People in Wayne County can expect occasional showers and a possible thunderstorm until about 10 p.m. During the day, southeasterly winds will reach 16 mph with possible gusts up to 30 mph. Rainfall is expected to total somewhere between one and two inches.

According to the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base weather service at 9 a.m. today, Goldsboro has received 0.36 inches in the last 24 hours. Weather spotters at the base said more rain is expected in the early afternoon.

A flood watch will be in effect throughout the county until about 8 p.m., and the tornado watch should be over at 4 p.m.

Blair Tyndall, Emergency Medical Services Manager with the county's Emergency Services Department, said it is typical to see tornadoes spawn from a tropical storm and that residents should pay attention to any developments in the area.

"People need to monitor the storm as it progresses. There is local radio and TV. The media outlets do a great job of posting developments. The National Weather Service has a great Web site with constant updates," Tyndall said.

He also suggested that people secure belongings outside of their homes and businesses to prevent objects becoming hazardous with any large wind gusts. In the event of a tornado, people should secure themselves in a windowless room in the center of their homes until the storm passes.

The storm was expected to enter the state around sunrise just east of Interstate 95 and leave over the Outer Banks east of Elizabeth City around sunset, said Kermit Keeter of the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

Keeter warned early Wednesday that the track could vary by 90 miles on either side of the dotted line shown on forecast charts.

Strongest winds will be northeast of the storm, where tornado threats are greatest. Keeter said the storm should be a tropical depression by the time it enters North Carolina, but still could pack a dangerous punch with wind gusts to 45 mph and heavy rainfall.

"I don't think we will see any tropical storm force winds, except 45 mph or so and that's right along the coast," he said.

The weather service issued a gale warning for the coast from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning with 10-foot seas and a flood warning for the eastern half of the state. Rainfall could total up to 4 inches inland and around 5 inches closer to the coast.

Keeter said rivers have enough capacity to carry the excess water, easing flooding concerns.

Emergency management officials in coastal counties said changes to emergency plans following last year's hurricanes Katrina and Rita have better prepared them for this year's storms.

"Last year, we had over 80 roadways that were blocked in our county," said Brunswick County Emergency Services Director Randy Thompson.

"Any time you have a nuclear power plant and a large munitions depot in your coastal community, any roadways that are affected (by flooding) weighs heavily on your mind."

The state changed its plans to put more focus on people without transportation following lessons from Hurricane Katrina last year in New Orleans, said Gary Faltinowski, assistant director of the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management.

He said families should have personal emergency plans and a supply of food and water for three days.

After this evening's storms, the weather is predicted to be partly cloudy tomorrow, followed by clear, warm weather.