The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for Wake, Durham, Orange, Johnston, Chatham, Lee and parts of Granville and Franklin counties as heavy rain moves through the Triangle.
Rain began falling Wednesday morning, and forecasters said up to 3 inches may come down before the day is over. The flash flood warning will remain in effect through this evening. Areas not covered by the warning are under a flood watch that extends through early Thursday morning.
The weather service reported numerous flooded roads in Durham and Orange counties, with reports of flooded homes in Carrboro.
The Chapel Hill Fire Department began evacuating residents from the Camelot Village Apartments in a flood-prone area off South Estes Drive, according to the town. Town officials also closed some roads nearby as well as parts of Fordham, Brookview and Umstead.
The rain was expected to continue overnight, tapering off early Thursday. Forecasters expect New Year’s Day to be partly cloudy, and Saturday’s forecast was for sunshine and a more seasonable high temperature around 50 degrees.
The region already is soaked from recent storms and has little capacity to absorb more water, they noted.
“Heavy rain showers will develop ahead of an approaching cold front today. The front will be moving very slowly east....”
The flooding potential was highest for low-lying areas and small streams that already are running high from 2 to 4 inches of rain in the past week.
ABC11 meteorologist Steve Stewart said the rain would be on-and-off during the day Wednesday, but “at times could be heavy, maybe even a thunderstorm.”
Officials warned that even 6 inches of moving water is enough to knock a person down and urged drivers not to pilot their vehicles into standing water.
For people out enjoying First Night on Thursday, “Things will be quiet, cloudy and mild,” Stewart said, though temperatures will be falling into the upper 40s by midnight.
In analyzing the air moving into the state, forecasters said instruments showed its potential to drop quantities of water would be “impressive” during summer months and is far from normal in late December.
A watch means there is a chance for flooding to happen. It is a step below a warning, when the weather service believes an event is likely to happen.