By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Tropical Storm Andrea is making its way up the East Coast, and while local impact from the storm is expected to be minimal today, forecasters are urging Edgecombe County residents to keep an eye on the weather just the same.
“We’re just looking for a rain event and probably some thunderstorms rolling around,” said Butch Beach, director of Edgecombe County Emergency Services. He said the level of Tar River is low – under three feet – with a “large capacity” to hold more water. Flash flooding of roadways from the storm, however, remains a possibility.
“The biggest threat is going to be the heavy rain and the chance of flash flooding,” said Kathleen Carroll, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. “Heavy rain combined with winds could possibly bring some trees down, so you can’t rule out that threat.”
The daytime hours will bring the strongest winds, gusting to approximately 30 miles per hour, said Carroll. She said the rainfall forecast for Edgecombe County is two inches of rain throughout the duration of the tropical system, and the hope is that the rain will be spread out over a day to day and a half time frame.
“Things could change, so keep an eye on what’s going on,” Carroll said. “If you have weather radios, keep them on. Just try to stay up to date.”
Andrea wreaked havoc in Florida Thursday, spawning tornadoes and causing storm surge and flash flooding.
“This one fortunately is a fast-moving storm,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The storm was not expected to strengthen into a hurricane.
Last year was a quiet tropical storm season for Edgecombe County, with no storms making a direct hit. This year could be a different story, with forecasters predicting a higher number than usual named storms – 13 to 20 – with seven to 11 of them predicted to become hurricanes. The official hurricane season began Saturday.
“They are talking about an active hurricane season this year, so you can’t be too prepared. Now’s a good time for folks to get reminded of checking their hurricane kits, making sure they have some fresh water and some fresh goodies on hand in case the power goes out,” Beach said. “Make sure you’ve got some emergency light, whether it’s flashlights or lanterns.”
Other recommended supplies for a hurricane preparedness kit are prescription and non-prescription medications, basic first aid supplies, changes of clothes, blankets/ sleeping bags, and a NOAA weather radio with extra batteries, according to HYPERLINK "http://www.readync.org" www.readync.org.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation provided the following safety tips for drivers in the case of heavy rain:
Avoid driving through flooded areas, even if they seem shallow.
Reduce your speed by at least five to 10 miles per hour and allow at least twice the normal following distance.
If your car starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, apply the brakes in a steady manner and steer in the direction of the skid. If you have a manual transmission, push in the clutch and allow the car to slow down on its own.
If the rain is extremely heavy, pull over in a safe area such as a parking lot or on the roadside with your emergency flashers on, away from trees, and wait for the weather to improve.
For updated travel information, dial 511 toll-free.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.