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Wilson County could receive 4 to 6 inches or more of rain Thursday with wind gusts up to 40 mph as Hurricane Michael makes its way across the state.
The bulk of the rain will come Thursday during the day and into the evening, according to Kathleen Carroll, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.
The highest rain totals will probably be between 2 p.m. Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday. Rain will be off and on most of the day Thursday and could be heavy at times.
Wilson and surrounding counties are under both a flash flood watch and a tropical storm warming today. The warning indicates winds could reach 57 mph.
Wilson County officials said the storm could bring downed trees and power outages.
The recent heavy rainfall also means the root system of trees might be loosened, Carroll said, and the winds don’t have to be as strong to bring them down. Although the predicted rain totals are not as high as we saw here with Florence, Carroll said there is still a flood risk because the ground is still saturated from that storm. This rainfall will not be absorbed much at all, she said, and will run into rivers and streams.
The places that usually flood will flood, officials said.
There will also be an increased tornado risk, Carroll said, because Wilson County is on the east side of the forecast track, where tornadoes are mostly likely to occur. A tornado caused a strip of severe damage when it touched down in Elm City with Hurricane Florence.
‘TURN AROUND, DON’T DROWN’
Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for 66 counties including Wilson County. Wilson County Schools are also closed today and will operate on a two-hour delay Friday.
Gordon Deno, Wilson County Emergency Management director, said officials will continue to monitor the storm and will set up its emergency operation center Thursday morning.
With the potential of flooding, Deno said it’s vital for residents to be cautious. He said people need to heed warnings and never drive through flooded roadways or moving water. Instead, drivers need to turnaround.
Hurricane Florence caused 39 deaths, the majority of which were fresh-water drownings. Hurricane Matthew caused two deaths in Wilson County.
“Both were due to people driving into flooded roads,” Deno said.
The city of Wilson warned Wilson Energy customers Wednesday morning that high winds Thursday and into Friday could cause power outages.
Sign up for text alerts to notify you of outages and power restoration at https://www.wilsonnc.org/outage/. To sign up, you will need the location number from your utility bill.
Hurricane Michael was a Category 4 storm as it hit the Florida Coast Wednesday. Winds topped 155 mph.
The Associated Press says its the most powerful hurricane to hit this part of the Florida coast in recorded history.