ROCKINGHAM — Heavy rains sweeping across North Carolina throughout the day on Tuesday — and with more forecast to fall — prompted the National Weather service to issue a flood watch lasting until 3 a.m. on Thursday.
“A very moist air mass in place over central North Carolina combined with a series of upper level disturbances and a surface low crossing the area will bring periods of moderate to heavy rain tonight and again Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday night,” according to the flood watch statement, issued around 3 p.m. Tuesday. “This is expected to result in an increasing risk for flooding along smaller streams and creeks, and including street flooding in urban and low-lying areas.”
Flash flood watches early Tuesday extended from southeast Louisiana across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and a sliver of southern Virginia, the Associated Press reported. Montgomery, Alabama, saw more than 8 inches of rain Saturday, and neighboring counties got more than 6 inches.
The NWS predicted that two to four inches of rain is expected to fall in the two-day time frame with localized higher amounts possible. High rainfall amounts, forecasters say, will produce a threat of flooding, including street flooding and rising water on area creeks.
A few strong to severe thunderstorms are possible Wednesday afternoon through early Wednesday night, the NWS predicted, adding that the main severe weather hazards will be damaging straight line winds and perhaps an isolated tornado.
Citing the Fayetteville Observer, the Associated Press reported Tuesday afternoon that the Autryville Fire Department in Sampson County was destroyed by a tornado. Reports indicate the roof of the fire station was ripped off the building, and all but one of the trucks are covered with rubble.
Assistant County Manager Susan Holder said there were “multiple touchdowns.” Additional reports indicate there was damage at a mobile home park near Autryville. The storm also toppled trees and brought down power lines.
The NWS also reported property damage from thunderstorms in Robeson County.
According to the weather service, two barns were damaged from high winds on a rural road in Robeson County.
According to the N.C. State Highway Patrol, there were four wrecks between 5 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Tuesday in Richmond County where the vehicles hydroplaned. Troopers urge drivers to slow down and drive carefully during downpours, where ponding on the roads is possible.
While no damage reports had been made in Hamlet, Police Chief Scott Waters said several of his family members had downed trees and limbs.
An email to Richmond County Emergency Services Director Donna Wright regarding weather-related property damage and flooding was not returned in time for publication.
Even though the flood watch ends early Thursday morning, doesn’t mean things will start drying out. There is a 50 percent chance of Thunderstorms late in the day.
The weather outlook for the next week shows Friday and Saturday to be clear, but a chance of showers and thunderstorms Sunday through Tuesday.