LUMBERTON — A massive weather system is moving toward Robeson County that could bring tropical storm-like winds in the next few hours.
County officials are preparing for the worst — and residents are being advised to stay inside. All of the state’s 100 counties are under a wind advisory.
“Late this evening in Robeson County we are expecting a solid unbroken line of showers and thunderstorms,” said Tim Armstrong, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “The wind gusts will be between 50 and 60 mph by around 7 p.m. and we should expect around a half inch of rain to fall across the area.”
The storm started affected Robeson County at about 4:45 p.m. and, according to a National Weather Service, is expected to clear the area around midnight. Armstrong said that areas north and west of Robeson County are the most vulnerable for tornadoes.
“As the storms approach there will be 40-mph winds,” Armstrong said. “Secure anything that strong winds might affect such as patio furniture or trampolines — basically anything that can be thrown around by the wind. In terms of speeds, the winds are the same as a small tropical storm.”
Charles Britt, the assistant county manager and director of Emergency Services, said he is keeping a watch on the storm.
“I’ve notified all the fire departments and rescue units across the county,” Britt said. “They’re on stand by for rough weather and emergencies. All we can do is wait and hope that we don’t get hit too hard or have too many downed trees or power lines. We are fully prepared for widespread damage but hope it doesn’t come to that. Across the county we have added staff in preparation for this situation.”
Armstrong said that Robeson County’s location in the southeastern part of the state will protect it from the worst.
“From what we can tell, there should be no tornadoes, but a possibility of minor damage to trees is likely,” Armstrong said. “The wind has the potential to damage power lines. Keep flashlights nearby and stay away from any downed power lines.”
Britt recommends staying at least 100 feet from a downed power line.
“If it lands on your vehicle, stay in it until the authorities arrive,” Britt said.
According to the National Weather Service, the system will bring an end the recent warm weather.
“You will certainly feel winter starting tomorrow,” Armstrong said. “We are looking at 23- to 24-degree weather by Saturday. It should be clear skies, so the threat of black ice wont be there.”
The storm, which is moving this way from the south and west, is being blamed for at least two deaths, one in Georgia and one in Tennessee.
If you need to report an outage of power ,call your electricity provider. The following are their numbers: City of Lumberton, 910-738-874; Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation, 910-843-4131; Progress Energy,800-452-2777; and Red Springs, 910-843-3454.