NC communities make preparations ahead of Hurricane Ian

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BySamantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Monday, September 26, 2022
NC communities make preparations ahead of Hurricane Ian
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The ABC11 Weather Team is predicting around two to six inches of rainfall but that can change multiple times throughout the week.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The remnants of Hurricane Ian are expected to affect North Carolina beginning Friday. The storm is expected to bring wind and rain to the Tar Heel State but the extent and location of those effects are still not clear.

"I'll tell you the first three days in the track are where the confidence is highest and that's the only takes us into Wednesday night and by that time, it still hasn't made landfall around Florida. So we still have a lot to watch at this point," ABC11 meteorologist Kweilyn Murphy said.

State and local officials are monitoring the updates alongside the ABC11 Weather Team.

RELATED: Hurricane Ian strengthens to Category 2, still tracking toward FL and eventually NC

On Monday, Raleigh began to lower the levels of Lake Johnson.

"Right now the lake is full," said Kelly Daniel, a flood early warning system engineer with the City of Raleigh. "So if we get any rainfall no matter how much... if it's a drop or if it's four inches, it's going to all come over the spillway and come down Walnut Creek, down through the communities."

Daniel said the city plans to start with lowering the lake by a foot of water a day while monitoring the radar.

City workers also began to clear the street and ensure that street drains were unclogged.

Daniel said the city may lower additional lakes depending on how the models progress.

Raleigh has a new tool to better respond proactively to any flooding. The city's stormwater division is partnering with the transportation department to have access to road cameras across the state, especially in flood-prone areas.

"This gives us the ability to contact our emergency responders, whether it be the police department or the fire department, our street maintenance teams and they can get out there and block off the streets before they start flooding," Daniel said.

No major flooding concerns ... yet

The good news, so far, this storm is not expected to bring significant river flooding.

"We do have abnormally dry conditions for a lot of the area and actually portions of eastern North Carolina have slipped into moderate drought levels," Murphy said. "So we're not severely dry but we could use the rainfall. With the data going in... what we're getting, they don't show any concern as far as major flooding concerns with our local rivers."

The ABC11 Weather Team is predicting around two to six inches of rainfall but that can change multiple times throughout the week.

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"We'll have to have bouts of locally heavy rain so this won't be a steady drenching setup for us. It will be bouts of rain bands passing through, not the tracks if the system tracks farther west of us that could set us up for some slightly heavier rainfall. If it tracks off east of us that would set us up for some lower rainfall potential," Murphy explained.

New tools to be put to the test

State and local leaders met Monday morning.

"This week we are checking in with all of our partners on assessing the readiness of our personnel and our resources," explained Keith Acree, a spokesperson for North Carolina Emergency Management. "Just making sure all our folks are aware they're monitoring and making sure we don't have any gaps in the field or things that we're lacking as we head into this potential storm response."

Acree said the state may start moving resources in the next day or two if it is predicted that Ian will bring significant impact to specific areas of the state.

Statewide, new water gauge devices are in place that will help deliver better and more comprehensive real-time information about conditions across the state.

"So 70 new gauges into the system gives a lot of new capacity for flood warning and alert just abilities for local community communities to have better information to base decisions on know when water levels are rising in their areas and when they need to take actions to protect maybe their infrastructure to order evacuations," Acree explained.

Hurricane Ian will also be the first chance to test NCDOT's network of over 400 gauges it completed installing this summer. The department plans to use its internal system to better direct engineers and maintenance staff to areas that show a flood threat.

Acree urges residents across the state to use this week to make their own preparations. He advised everyone to make sure they are getting weather alerts on their phone and have a plan for evacuation in case of an emergency.

"Also, just some basic things like having an emergency kit in your house with some food and water, flashlight, some of your medicines, that sort of thing," he said.