LUMBERTON — It was a year ago this week that Hermine, a tropical storm that had been a Category 1 hurricane when it hit Florida, blew into Robeson County as a mostly rain event, dropping as many as 7 inches during a weekend visit.
Although Hermine was mostly an inconvenience, it saturated the land and bloated the Lumber River, setting the stage to make a visit six weeks later by Hurricane Matthew a catastrophe that local residents cannot forget.
Let’s hope Mother Nature isn’t using the same template following this tropical storm.
Robert DiGiorgi, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said early today that the unnamed tropical storm would not be as wet as Hermine, but that the county is under a flood watch until 11 a.m. Tuesday.
He was calling for 3 to 5 inches of rain, and said the heaviest would be around midnight. He also downplayed the possibility of flooding, saying the Lumber River is about halfway to its flood stage of 13 feet.
“They’re relatively low. We don’t think there’s gonna be any significant flooding,” he said.
But he warned about driving through water.
“When we say flash flooding, we mean roadways,” he said. “Flooding is the most dangerous at night so were advising people to stay off the roadways.”
DiGiorgi said the storm’s winds should top out at about 30 mph, and said sustained winds of about 58 mph are needed to topple trees. He said, however, weakened trees or trees whose root systems are compromised because of excessive rain could be dropped by winds with lower speeds.
Rain remains in the forecast throughout the week.
Editor Donnie Douglas can be reached at 910-416-5649. Staff writer Tomeka Sinclair contributed to this report.