Storms cause flooding, fire, flight delays around Triangle
After days of on-and-off thunderstorms, pounding downpours and saturated ground, much of the state of North Carolina saw strong storms move through Thursday.
Some parts of the Triangle have seen up to seven inches of rain over the past seven days and WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said some areas could see another 1 to 3 inches by Friday.
A flash flood warning remains in effect for much of the region through 8 p.m. Friday.
Another inch of rain fell Thursday afternoon on areas of Wake, Orange, Duham counties already inundated after a series of wet and cloudy days, and another two inches could fall through the evening, according to the National Weather Service.
A thunderstorm moving though Orange, Chatham and Durham counties was measured with winds of up to 60 mph, and a Durham restaurant saw their roof collapse during the heaviest of the storms.
The manager of Roots Bistro and Bar, at 4810 Hope Valley Road, said heavy rain was behind the collapse. Next door, Growler Grlz reported up to 4 inches of rain inside their store.
“We have sandbags on standby just for this occasion,” Grlz said.
Christa Donofrio and her staff needed sandbags, as Thursday marked the third flood she’s experienced in her four years as manager of a nearby brewery.
“Our customers came in and they were like ‘how can we help?’ So we had towels, we had mops, we had squeegees. Everybody was working for a common goal, to get the floor dry se we can drink beer,” she said.
Chris Erickson, who owns One Fitness Gym, said two inches of rain flooded the facility Thursday evening.
“It’s right up there with some of the worst we’ve had,” he said. “All the equipment and everything had to get moved and the flooring had to get taken up.”
While many places had dried out by Thursday night, Erickson said it’s going to take a lot of work to get his business ready for Friday.
“The hardest part is done. We’ve got all the water out, now we just have to dry and wash all the tiles and put them back down and then mop, but we’ll get it done,” he said.
In Vance County, a storage barn in the 6800 block of N.C. Highway 39 caught fire and traffic was blocked from the road as firefighters worked to put it out.
In Apex, several trees fell across Olive Chapel Road as a result of strong winds.
“It got very dark and super, super windy,” resident Matthew Cook said.
Cook said that the last time he saw weather similar to Thursday’s storms, it was from a tornado.
“A lot of trees torn up and it looked very much like tornado damage I saw in Durham a few years ago,” he said.
Rain causes backup at RDU
Passengers on Thursday evening took to Twitter to vent their frustrations about being stuck on the tarmac at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
RDU spokesman Andrew Sawyer said that all staff members working outside were forced inside when lightning began near the airport. The result was that planes ready for take-off were unable to leave and planes that had just landed were unable to taxi to gates to allow passengers to depart.
RDU officials said about 10 planes landed, but were unable to get to the gate because the backup caused all gates at Terminal 2 to fill up.
After a long flight from Salt Lake City, Rukaya McQueen said she was stuck on her plan on the RDU tarmac for more than three hours.
“Some people were upset. Some people fell asleep,” she said. ”[The delay was] almost as long as the flight. I watched two movies.”
Thursday was another in a string of cloudy, muggy days, although the overcast skies kept temperatures under 80 degrees.
Friday’s forecast calls for more of the same, with highs in the upper 70s and a 50 percent chance of afternoon showers.
It warms up through the weekend, and the daily chance for showers slips to a more normal 30 percent.