The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning for Wake, Johnston, Chatham, Franklin and Nash counties Thursday evening, a full 12 hours before the center of Hurricane Florence came ashore along the southeastern coast.
Durham and Orange counties were not covered by the warning, and that’s not likely to change, said James Morrow, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Raleigh.
A tropical storm warning means that winds of 36 mph or higher are possible. But the main effect of the storm in the Triangle will be flooding rain. Forecasters expect Florence will drop 6 to 10 inches of rain in Wake County over the next few days, with higher amounts south and east of the Triangle.
“Fayetteville, Clinton, even Dunn could see 15 to 20 inches,” Morrow said.
The outer bands of scattered rain reached the Triangle early Thursday afternoon, but the heavier rain began falling in the southeastern parts of the Triangle, including Johnston County, early Friday.
The weather service issued a flood warning for the Cape Fear River at Lillington and Fayetteville and the Little River at Manchester, effective Sunday morning, in anticipation of rising water. Forecasters expect the Cape Fear at Lillington to go from a depth of 2.2 feet Friday morning to 19.6 feet on Monday.
The center of Hurricane Florence came ashore near Wrightsville Beach about 7:15 a.m., according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm was creeping along at about 6 mph toward the west and is expected to move slowly across the Carolinas on Friday and Saturday.
The maximum sustained winds had dropped to about 90 mph, but tropical-force winds extended up to 195 miles from the center of the storm.
Those winds will die down quickly as Florence moves over land, but the rain will persist.
“We could have rain in the area for the next five days or so from Florence,” Morrow said.
The entire Triangle region remains under a flash flood watch through Sunday evening. The weather service says the tropical storm warning will remain in effect until early Saturday morning.