Record rain floods Triangle roads; storms knock out power

akenney@newsobserver.comMay 15, 2014 

— A day of record rain and heavy winds knocked out power for thousands and brought down trees in parts of Triangle on Thursday, and continued rains through early Friday threatened to worsen flooding woes throughout the region.

Wake County was under a flash flood warning through 2:45 a.m., and the National Weather Service reported a record 3.38 inches of rain at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Thursday, easily eclipsing the mark of 2.19 inches set in 1934.

Another 1.6 inches of rain came down Friday before the downpour stopped, the weather service said.

Raleigh police had reported flooding on numerous streets, including Glenwood and Wade avenues, Thursday.

Durham County, meanwhile, was clearing damage from a severe storm that prompted a tornado warning at about 6 p.m. The storm left trees blocking sections of Hope Valley Road, University Drive, Murray Avenue, Sarah Avenue and Downing Creek, according to Durham police.

University Drive had been reopened by sunrise Friday, police said, but Hope Valley Road remained closed.

Trees damaged a car on Weaver Street and houses on Alpine Road and Hemsworth Street, while flooded streets were reported across the city. No injuries were immediately reported, according to police spokeswoman Kammie Michael.

Duke Energy reported close to 5,000 customers were without power in southwestern Durham as of 9 p.m. Thursday, and about 1,300 remained powerless at 6 a.m. Friday, along with scattered outages in Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Chatham County.

Northern Cary and Morrisville also saw significant outages Friday, with close to 7,000 Duke Energy customers and traffic signals at a dozen intersections losing service, according to the company and the town of Cary.

Clouds were forecast to give way to sunshine Friday afternoon, with high temperatures in the mid-70s. Saturday’s forecast called for sunny skies and a high in the mid-70s.

Rain welcome to some

While some complained about the rain, many farmers were happy to see it. After a cold, wet beginning to spring, farmers suffered a hot and dry spell, according to Dr. Jeana Myers, an agent with Wake County’s Cooperative Extension.

“We definitely needed the rain. We welcome it,” Myers said. “It’s coming down pretty hard and fast, so hopefully there’s not damage.”

The heat has been especially hard on lettuce, according to Fred Miller, who runs Hilltop Farms in Willow Spring. He farms about 45 acres of various fruits and vegetables, including about 1,000 heads of lettuce. A couple hundred are ruined, he said.

“It might get up around 1,000 if some of these others don’t make it,” Miller said. “It’s too early to tell if it will keep growing.”

He has been irrigating his crops, especially his strawberries, he said, “but the ground needed (the rain), so I’m not going to complain about getting wet.”

With strawberry season peaking, strawberry farmers might have more to worry about. Sue Phillips, owner of Phillips Farm in Cary, said heavy rain can destroy a ripe strawberry crop.

“They’ll just rot right on the vine,” Phillips said. “When your field is full of beautiful, ripe berries, that’s the last thing you want to see, is rain falling on them.”


Kenney: 919-829-4870; Twitter: @KenneyNC

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