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April showers bring rain, wind and chance of tornados Friday

 

The National Weather Service is warning of severe weather across eastern North Carolina.

Starting Friday afternoon and into the night, numerous severe thunderstorms are possible, according to the NWS in Newport/Morehead City. The weather outlook is calling for damaging wins, heavy downpours and the chance of an isolated tornado.

According to Chris Newkirk, operations chief for fire/emergency management with Beaufort County Emergency Services, 24 hours out, meteorologists were still unsure about the timing of the system.

“This has been a difficult system. This has been difficult for forecasters to wrap their heads around, but they know it’s going to happen tomorrow,” Newkirk said Thursday afternoon. “They said Friday afternoon and night — that would lead me to think something after noon which makes sense because that’s when we’re going to have our highest temperatures, which causes these storms to flare up as they pass through.”

According to an NWS press release, the county is looking at 1 1/2 to 2 inches of rain, with wind gusts of between 40 and 50 mph.

Newkirk advised residents to stay alert to changing weather, check in with news stations for updates and tap into the wealth of weather technology available to the public.

“If you do not have some type of alert system that comes to your (home) phone or your smart devices you need to get that,” Newkirk said. “Red Cross Tornado is a great app for people to put on their phones, and if there’s a warning that is in that GPS-identified area, it will hit your phones immediately.”

Hyper-Reach, BCES’ warning system, is another he highly recommends more people take advantage of.

“If you’re a resident in Beaufort County or you have a relative in Beaufort County, if you are not registered on Hyper Reach, we want to see you on that,” Newkirk said. “That’s the only method we have to reach the masses quickly. … Our worst-case scenario is to find ourselves, like so many instances in the Midwest, where tornados have spun up in the middle of the night and they had no way to know they were in harm’s way. … These types of things will do nothing but help us.”

Currently, less than 10 percent of Beaufort County residents are registered with Hyper-Reach, a program that works with landlines (home phones), cell phones and computer, through the subscriber’s choice of phone call, text and/or email. Alerts range from closed roads due to flooding, boil water alerts, power outages, tornados and more.

To sign up for Hyper Reach, visit the Beaufort County government website at www.co.beaufort.nc.us or call Beaufort County Emergency Services at 252-946-9046.