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Raleigh, N.C. — The U.S. Storm Prediction Center upgraded the Triangle’s threat for severe weather on Friday to a level 4 of 5, which means the area is at a major risk for severe thunderstorms, particularly in the evening.
“We hardly ever see a risk that’s this high in our area,” meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said, adding that it’s important to have a severe weather preparedness plan for yourself and your family.
The last time Central and Eastern North Carolina was under a level 4 risk was in 2016.
On Friday morning, organizations were already preparing for the storm. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will dismiss students two hours early. The Durham Rescue Mission canceled its Easter celebration because of the storm’s danger.
The storm system is expected to come in two waves, Gardner said: one around midday and one in the evening.
While scattered showers are possible in the Triangle around 7 and 8 a.m., one of the storm waves will come in around 11 a.m. Isolated thunderstorms are possible.
There’s a lull in activity around 3 p.m., but an even more intense storm arrives around 5 p.m.
It is expected to bring dangerous winds, large hail, downpours and tornadoes.
WRAL’s power outage index model was predicting dense outages of some areas of Central North Carolina.
The incoming storm system has already produced a cluster of tornadoes in the Jackson, Mississippi, area. Numerous instances of wind damage were reported in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama on Thursday.
The storm is expected to move east out of the Triangle around 11 p.m.
An inch to an inch and a half of rain is expected in the Triangle.
WRAL traffic reporter Brian Shrader advises drivers to stay off the road if possible during the storm. It’s dangerous to drive through flooded streets, and motorists should turn around if they encounter any.