The Triangle began shutting down mid-afternoon as Hurricane Matthew settled in for the evening on largely empty streets bestrewn with leaves and twigs.
With reports of street closures and toppled trees coming in all over the region, most residents opted to stay home, and many businesses closed early.
The Triangle caught only the soggy outer edge of the storm, which lashed its way up the eastern seaboard of the United States. On a prematurely dark afternoon in Raleigh, cars crawled single file through pools of water and detoured around closed-off roadways.
At the Yellow Dog Bakery in Raleigh, employees were preparing to close at 4 p.m., two hours earlier than usual. Amanda Otten, a barista at the bakery, said customers came in early to stock up on pastries, but business dropped off sharply after lunch.
She said the workers were eager to wash and clean all the dishes before the power went out. They hoped to avoid having to come to work the next day to a pile of unclean pans and utensils. “That’s a disaster for a bakery,” she said.
Nearby, at the Standard Foods grocery and restaurant, employees were readying for a long-planned opening weekend for the restaurant.
The restaurant would be serving diners Saturday night “unless the power grid goes out,” said Tristan Pennel, the manager.
That’s the thing with storms. Sometimes they blow people away. Sometimes they blow people in.
Tristan Pennel, Standard Foods manager
Pennel said there were some canceled reservations but he expected a good turnout because most of the restaurant’s clientele lives in nearby neighborhoods. He and some of his colleagues can walk to work.
“That’s the thing with storms,” Pennel said. “Sometimes they blow people away. Sometimes they blow people in.”
At the Whole Foods on Wade Avenue, customers inspected fresh produce and brilliant stacks of cans. Some who had lost power were shopping for candles and nonperishable food.
Scott Sawyer, a professional guitarist originally from Chicago, found the weather conditions relatively mild compared with other storms he has experienced.
Despite reports of stranded motorists being rescued from flood zones, the roads were passable nearby and Sawyer was not overly concerned.
“People watch the Weather Channel too much.”