Severe weather threatens region

Published 7:19 pm Tuesday, February 23, 2016



A one-two-three punch of severe thunderstorms, possible localized flooding and high winds is expected to pummel most of eastern North Carolina through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service’s Newport office.

“This situation has the potential to be a stronger-than-normal severe weather outbreak, especially given the time of year,” according to threat summary issued Tuesday by the National Weather Service.

Beaufort County and its neighboring counties are under a hazardous weather outlook at least through Wednesday night. The forecast, prepared by meteorologists at the Newport office, calls for strong to severe thunderstorms Wednesday, with the potential for severe weather conditions, including destructive winds, large hail (up to an inch in diameter) and tornadoes. Periods of heavy rain could bring localized flooding in low-lying areas and areas with poor drainage, according to the forecast. Straight-line winds up to 60 mph are expected Wednesday.

The worst of the severe weather is expected from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The chance of rain is at 80 percent for early Wednesday, decreasing from 80 percent to 40 percent Wednesday night, according to NWS information.

Water levels of many streams, creeks and rivers in the region are higher than normal because of previous rains this month. At Washington, the Pamlico River has been rising steadily since early Tuesday morning, according to the Advance Hydrologic Prediction Service.

“We have been pumping the creek today (Tuesday). We are lowering the water level in the creek. We also have some crews out cleaning and checking catch basins and key drainage ditches in preparation for this,” Frankie Buck, the city’s public-works director, said Tuesday afternoon.

At noon Tuesday, the river was at 1.34 feet above normal, according to NWS information (based on readings taken at a U.S. Geological Survey gauge in the river at Washington). At 3 p.m. Tuesday, the river was at 1.64 feet. The gauge showed a slow but steady increase in the river level throughout Tuesday morning and afternoon.

The river crested at 8.14 feet on Sept. 16, 1999, as a result of Hurricane Floyd passing over the area. The next-highest crest of 7.53 feet happened Aug. 27, 2011, when Hurricane Irene came through the region. The most recent notable crest of 4.5 feet occurred Oct. 5 of this year, after a major storm system off the East Coast dumped heavy rainfall in the Carolinas and other places.

John Pack, Beaufort County’s emergency-management manager, sent emails to county department heads and area fire departments reminding them of the severe weather. “At the present time the threat of severe weather could begin around 4:00pm Wednesday through midnight. There is the possibility of an isolated tornado so please remind everyone to be weather aware,” Pack wrote.

At the waterfront in Washington, personnel at the dockmaster’s planned to keep a close watch on how the weather affects boats at the city docks during the severe weather, taking appropriate action if needed.

A gale watch has been issued for coastal water south of Oregon Inlet from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday night, with gale warnings likely to be issued during that period, potentially expanding into the Pamlico Sound, according to NWS forecasts.






About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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