Durham County

Area gets heavy rain, but no major flood

With the coming of spring, came the rain.

February and March were dryer than usual this year but April has been wetter, said Meteorologist Keith Sherburn with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

Measurements taken at Raleigh-Durham International Airport recorded 2 inches of rainfall between Friday and Monday afternoon, and Sherburn said 1 to 1.5 of those inches fell on Sunday.

The downpours are estimated to cease Tuesday, trailing off Tuesday night.

Toppled trees and fallen branches damaged Duke Energy electrical equipment, leading to power outages for more than 2,000 customers in Durham on Monday. As many as 59,000 customers across North Carolina were without power early Monday morning.

Duke Energy reported more than 2,250 customers without power in Durham in the area surrounding Northgate Mall. Power was restored by about noon.

A Durham Police Department watch commander said, “We have not received reports of flooding — at all.”

The watch commander said that there had been accidents in the city limits Monday but “not many more than are usual on a daily basis. Nothing unusual has been brought to my attention.”

A low pressure system is moving up the southeastern United States seaboard, soon to pass over the Mid-Atlantic.

This low pressure system was predicted to either move directly over the Triangle or bypass the collection of cities to the northwest Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

North Carolina typically gets one or two big “rain producer” systems every spring, Sherburn said, those being either low pressure systems or stalled cold fronts. Right now, we have one of each. As of Monday afternoon a stalled cold front had parked off of the coast adding its own moisture to the rainy mix.

Fayetteville broke the city's recorded daily precipitation record of .96 inches of rainfall for April 24 midway through Monday, recording a new record of 1.5 inches, Sherburn said.

Durham's precipitation record for an April 24th day is 1.55 inches. If rain continued throughout the day and into the night, Sherburn said, a new record might be set. “We're pushing in on the record,” he said.

The National Weather Service first issued a flood warning Saturday around 4 p.m. and a flood advisory was in effect for most of Monday.

Meteorologist try to issue flood warnings days in advance of a large storm's strike. The flood warning is an early warning, where flood advisories are typically issued shortly before or in the moment of a potential or occurring problem.

Flood advisories typically inform about hazards such as ponding waters on roadways and urban flooding, for instance, overflowing drainage grates.

Orange County is under a flood watch until 8 a.m. Tuesday.

“Heavy rains over the weekend downed trees and swelled creeks and rivers, creating dangerous driving conditions in various areas across the state, and more rain is expected overnight,” wrote NC Dept. of Transportation spokeswoman Katie Trout. “Over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous floodwater, and less than two feet of water can carry away most vehicles. If line markings on the road are not visible, do not drive through the water.”

— News & Observer staff writer Abbie Bennett contributed reporting to this article.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks

Safety tips

The N. C. Department of Transportation issued these safety tips for driving in heavy rainfall:

▪  Avoid driving through pools of standing water, even if they appear shallow. Water could be covering road hazards such as holes, fallen power lines or debris.

▪  Allow yourself more time to get where you’re going. Drive at least five to 10 mph slower than the speed limit on wet pavement.

▪  As required by North Carolina law, turn on your headlights while using your windshield wipers, regardless of the time of day.

▪  Stay alert and be ready for sudden stops. Allow at least twice the normal following distance between vehicles.

▪  If your vehicle starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas and apply the brakes in a steady, slightly firm manner and steer in the direction of the skid.

Related stories from Durham Herald Sun