Updated at 9 AM Friday Storm Will Bring Wind, Rain & Power Outages
Wayne Howard Staff Writer
Add to the list of closures due to Hurricane Florence schools in Lincoln and Catawba counties. The Lincoln County Schools, Catawba County Schools, Newton-Conover Schools and Hickory City Schools will be closed for students Friday; it will be an optional teacher workday. Lincoln Charter School will also be closed (both Lincolnton and Denver campuses) Friday. Long Shoals Wesleyan Academy & Long Shoals Wesleyan Daycare will be closed. Gaston College will not hold classes until Monday.
Florence weakened to a category 1 storm before making landfall at Wrightsville Beach at 7:15 Friday morning, but it's expected to cause billions of dollars in damage as it comes meanders southwestward between Myrtle Beach and Florence, SC, before hitting Columbia as a tropical storm on Sunday and making its way to the NC mountains by Monday.
Up to 11 trillion gallons of rain are expected to fall on North and South Carolina and a combination of high winds, flooding, and possible tornadoes may leave up to 4 million people without electricity--some of them for as much as two weeks, possibly even longer.
Our area has escaped the worst of the storm now that it's expected to track further southward, but we could still have prolonged sustained winds near 40 mph and gusts in excess of 50 mph Saturday and Sunday.
It appears now that our total rainfall will likely be about 6 inches, but some areas may get more--up to 10 inches; and when Florence tracks into the mountains, it will almost certainly produce even more rain--8 to 10 inches and possibly a foot or more in some locations.
As bad as the wind and flooding may be, the biggest problem for our area may be the power outages that are almost certain to occur.
Friday morning Florence was dumping an average of three inches of rain per hour on southeastern NC. The National Hurricane Center says Florence's center may linger for another whole day along coastal North and South Carolina.
At New Bern, rescuers by midmorning Friday had plucked more than 200 people from rising waters, but about 150 more had to wait as conditions worsened and a storm surge reached 10 feet.
In Jacksonville, NC, about 70 occupants were evacuated from the Triangle Motor Inn after hurricane-force winds collapsed portions of the hotel’s roof.
Rescuers were trying to get to those who had decided to stay behind in low-lying areas even after being asked over and over to evacuate. One woman called 9-1-1 from the attic of her home as the rising water flooded the house.
For our area, we'll have sustained winds later in the day of 25 mph with gusts exceeding 40 mph. The wind may actually die down a bit overnight (15-20 mph sustained, gusts over 25 mph) but the rain will commence. About a half inch or a little more is expected overnight Friday.
Winds will only pick up a little on Saturday (15-20 mph sustained, gusts of 30 mph) but another half inch of rain will fall. Saturday night, winds will increase to 20-25 mph sustained, gusts up to 40 mph) and a little less than a half inch of additonal rain is expected.
On Sunday, our closest expected brush with the storm will give us a couple of inches of rainfall. Winds will be about the same as Saturday, but there is a possibility of tornadoes late Saturday night through Sunday.
Sunday night, winds won't be any worse, but we'll get another inch of rain.
Monday, up to an additonal inch of rain is possible but winds will diminish as the storm moves northward through the mountains and exits to Virginia and other points north from there.
As we've noted, while flooding is going to be a problem, our biggest problem is going to be downed trees and power lines and the loss of electricity which is likely to occur for many.
In addition to the school closures already mentioned, cancellations and postponements related to the storm include:
The Lincoln County Apple Festival has been postponed until October 27th.
The Band Preview Program that had been scheduled for Saturday night at LHS Stadium has been cancelled.
The Rotary Club sponsored Apple Festival Road Race will now be held on October 27th. Those who registered for the event this week need not re-register--you're already registered for Oct. 27th. Others who may want to participate now have another month to register.
The Lincoln County Library's annual Book Sale at the James W. Warren Citizens Center will still take place this weekend (Friday 2-8 and Saturday 9-4). That may change if the storm becomes severe; if it does, we'll post an update.
The Cleveland-Lincoln County Rose Society Rose Exhibition at First Wesleyan Church in Lincolnton that had been scheduled for Saturday has been cancelled.
The Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting at the new building for Energy United that had been scheduled for Friday has been rescheduled for Friday September 28th.
North Carolina Zoo at Asheboro closed the rest of the week.
Gardner-Webb University has cancelled classes for the rest of the week after Wednesday.
UNC-Charlotte cancelled classes for the rest of the week after 5 PM Wednesday.
Belmont Abbey cancelled classes for the rest of the week.
While Douglas International Airport at Charlotte remains operational, there have been many cancelled flights because of the weather; check on your flight before making a trip to the airport.
The Central Florida at North Carolina college football game which had been scheduled for noon Saturday has been canceled.
The West Virginia at NC State game scheduled for Saturday has also been canceled.
The Southern Mississippi at Appalachian State game scheduled for Saturday in Boone has been cancelled.
The Western Carolina at Gardner-Webb game will be played at 6 PM Friday.
The Old Dominion at Charlotte game was played Thursday.
If there are other updates on schedules, cancellations, etc. we'll post them when they are made available. If your school, club, church or business cancels an event or reschedules due to Hurricane Florence, email us at email@example.com and we'll pass along the information.
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