WILMINGTON — The city’s National Weather Service office issued a flash flood watch in effect from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon for coastal and inland areas of New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties.
A wet gulf system is expected to arrive Friday into Saturday.
“Rain will be heavy at times Friday through midday Saturday, and could produce flash flooding, especially poor drainage areas near creeks, streams and ditches. Street flooding is likely in areas and known low spots,” the NWS said in a urgent release made Thursday morning.
Two to three inches of rainfall “on top of already damp ground” are expected.
Meanwhile rainfall for 2018 continues to rise above the annual record, which was set in 1877 at 83.65 inches. This amount was surpassed two days after Hurricane Florence hit the state’s southeastern coast.
The expected downpour is predicted to bring the year’s total above 100 inches; the current year-to-date total is close to 98 inches.
“Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation,” the NWS said. “You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.”
A later report issued at 10:53 A.M. also issued a flood warning for the Northeast Cape Fear River near Burgaw, affecting Pender County.
“People with interests along the river should take the necessary precautions to protect life and property from the flood waters,” the report stated.
Other portions of southeast North Carolina included in the flash flood watch are Columbus and Robeson counties.
Why has 2018 been so wet?
According to the NWS, the city recorded 23 inches of rain from Sep. 13 through Sep. 16 – the “largest rainfall total from any single weather event in Wilmington’s history, handily beating Hurricane Floyd’s 19.06 inches rainfall total back in 1999.”
According to estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), that amount of rainfall in Wilmington in a period of four days occurs, on average, once every 1,000 years.
“A steady stream of non-tropical low pressure systems, cold and warm fronts, and daytime thunderstorms also brought well-above normal rainfall amounts in January, May, June, July, and November,” the NWS said.
People in the area are encouraged to regularly monitor forecasts at weather.gov/ilm.