Michael expected to bring rain, wind gusts to county
By Janet Storm
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Pitt County residents may want to keep an umbrella handy and an eye on local forecasts as Hurricane Michael brings rain and high winds to the state throughout the day Thursday and into this evening.
Michael came ashore in Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane. Although it is expected to be significantly weakened by the time it encounters Pitt County, officials said the storm should not be taken lightly, and they encouraged residents to make emergency preparations.
According to National Weather Service meteorologist Erik Heden, Pitt County could receive 2-4 inches of rain Thursday with wind gusts in the 35-45 mph range as the storm arrives.
“There will not be sustained winds, and normally gusts of 35 to 45 mph wouldn’t cause us to bat an eye,” he said. “But for people who still have their roofs tarped from damage caused by Florence three weeks ago, they could cause problems.”
The recent heavy rainfall also means that trees may be more prone to topple, because their root systems have loosened, he said.
“There are many trees that are already leaning because of damage from Florence, and piles of debris around,” Heden said. “So they definitely pose some risk.”
Heden said the rain and wind will may be heavy at times and should peak this afternoon and evening.
Pitt and surrounding counties are under both a flash flood watch and a tropical storm watch through Friday evening, he said.
The National Weather Service also has issued a flood warning for the Tar River in Greenville. On Tuesday, the river was at 5.3 feet, and flood stage is 13 feet. The weather service forecast predicts the river level could rise to 14.7 feet by Saturday evening.
“We’ll be keeping an eye on the Tar River this weekend, but flash flooding is a more immediate threat,” Heden said.
There also is a tornado risk, he said.
“All of eastern North Carolina is on the right side of this storm, which is most favorable for tornadoes,” Heden said. The risk will be highest during the peak of the weather event, this afternoon and evening, he said.
“We definitely don’t want people to let their guard down just because this isn’t as severe for us as Florence,” he said. “People need to keep an eye on weather reports and have a plan in case a tornado warning is issued.”
City officials were making plans for the storm’s effects on Wednesday afternoon.
Greenville Utilities Commission has reported that four crews and support staff are on standby to travel to Georgia or Florida once they are certain that no emergency conditions exist in Pitt County.
Pitt County government enacted several preemptive measures, including:
■ A State of Emergency declaration has been issued, effective 8 a.m.Thursday, which will provide additional resources and services should they become necessary.
■ The Pitt County Emergency Operations Center will begin a partial activation starting Thursday at 8 a.m., with staff present throughout the duration of the event.
■ Emergency Population Shelter equipment has been identified, relocated, and prepared, should sheltering be needed. As of Wednesday evening, there were no plans to activate any shelters.
■ Conference calls and additional communication channels have been established between Pitt County Emergency Management and all municipalities and first response agencies, to coordinate and prepare for any response activities needed.
■ The Emergency Information Page of the Pitt County website has been activated at www.PittCountyNC.gov/MICHAEL, also available in Spanish at www.PittCountyNC.gov/HURACAN. Residents of Pitt County are encouraged to visit these pages often, as they will serve as the most authoritative voice of information regarding PCEM operations during this event.
■ Hurricane ready kit checklists are available for download at the Emergency Information Pages of the Pitt County website, and will be posted on the PCEM Facebook page as well.
■ Pitt County Schools will be closed for all students and staff Thursday. The district will operate on a two-hour delay on Friday. Staff will operate under Condition 4 of the inclement weather procedures and Condition 1 on Friday.
■ Pitt Community College also will be closed Thursday due to pending inclement weather.
■ The 10th anniversary celebration at The Service League of Greenville Inpatient Hospice, scheduled for Thursday, has been postponed. Officials said the event will be rescheduled as soon as possible and a new date will be announced in the coming weeks.
■ North Carolina State Fair manager Kent Yelverton said Wednesday the event will not open Thursday as planned. Yelverton says the fair will instead open Friday morning and run for 10 days instead of 11.
■ All FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers in North Carolina will be closed Thursday due to the impending storm. Officials said the centers will reopen when it is safe, possibly on Friday.