Florence weakens to tropical depression, Asheville under flash flood, wind advisories

Latest Tropical Depression Florence storm track.


Latest updates:

  • The gates at the North Fork Dam were closed at 2:40 a.m. Sunday
  • 703,184 without power statewide Sunday.
  • Asheville remains under a wind advisory.
  • The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Asheville through Tuesday.
  • Flooding impacts may not be apparent until Monday.
  • The storm could bring the potential for landslides.


A weakened Tropical Storm Florence has now been downgraded to depression, but flash flooding and major river flooding are expected to continue over the Carolinas.

At its 5 a.m. update Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said North Carolina can expect excessive amounts of rain. An elevated risk of landslides is now expected in Western North Carolina.

This morning, the storm was 20 miles southwest of southwest of Columbia, S.C., with top sustained winds of 35 mph. It is moving west — slowly — at 8 mph.

So far, 14 people have been killed in the storm.

Here is an update on expected Asheville-area impacts. According to the National Weather Service:

  • A flash flood watch remains in effect for Asheville through Tuesday. A wind advisory is in effect for Sunday.
  •  There is a 100% chance of rain today with a forecast of 1 to 3 inches of rain.
  • The National Weather Service warns that there is the potential for landslides in the mountains.


“Many people who think that the storm has missed them have yet to see its threat: Residents of Charlotte, Asheville, Fayetteville, Statesville, the Southern Piedmont, the Sandhills, the mountains,” Gov. Roy Cooper warned in a Saturday news conference.

Find official Hurricane Florence weather information on the National Weather Service website.


The City is prepared

The City of Asheville continues to monitor the path of Tropical Depression Florence and staff are prepared for storm response.

All of our emergency responders, Public Works, Public Safety  and communications employees understand that they may be called upon to work during the weekend, if a storm response is needed.

Water Resources staff drew down water from the North Fork Reservoir all week and closed the gates early today.  The gates at the North Fork Dam were closed at 2:40 a.m. Sunday.

The hope is that the gates will not have to be reopened during this storm event, but that will depend on the volume of water that comes into the reservoir, according to Water Resources Director David Melton.

All week Public Works Stormwater and Streets Division crews cleared drains of debris throughout the City. Literally hundreds of Asheville storm drains were cleaned this week, either by hand or by street-cleaning trucks.


Public Works employees are clearing drains of debris in advance of the storm, to ensure that water flows into stormwater systems. This helps prevent street flooding. Shown here is Terry Manos.
Public Works employees cleared storm drains of debris in advance of the storm, to ensure that water flows into stormwater systems. This helps prevent street flooding. Shown here is Terry Manos.


Ways you can prepare

The best way receive up-to-date local information is to sign up for AVL Alert, the City’s emergency notification system. Signing up is quick and easy and you can receive alerts for up to five locations. That may include your residence, an elderly relative’s residence, your child’s school, etc. Here is a link to a how-to video  on AVL Alert registration.

You can also download the NC Emergency Management app, ReadyNC, or follow the agency at this link.

We also urge residents to assemble an emergency kit, to include flashlight and batteries, bottled water, non-perishable food and other supplies. Find a federal government-recommended list at this link.

Need gas? There have been some spotty outages as people tank up for the storm. Check online or download a gas finder app such as GasBuddy.


Where to find official information

If the storm heads our way, the City of Asheville will post links to official emergency information on the City of Asheville website and on the Asheville Fire Department’s Twitter feed.

Information will also be posted on the City of Asheville Facebook page and Twitter feed. This may include street closures, in case of localized flooding.

Also NC Emergency Management has a list of shelters open at this link. So far, no shelters are open in the mountains area of the state.


What about power?

NC Emergency Management reported that statewide power outage total was at  703,184 Sunday, and the Citizen Times was reporting some outages in Buncombe County. NC Emergency Management is keeping track of power outages statewide at this link.

Call Duke Energy to report downed power lines:

  • Duke Energy Carolinas – 800-769-3766
  • Duke Energy Progress – 800-419-6356

Duke Energy warns people to stay away from downed power lines. Also:

  • DO NOT drive over or stand near downed power lines. Electric current passes easily through water.
  • Turn off your power at the circuit breaker panel or fuse box if rising water threatens your home or if you evacuate your home.


If you encounter flooding

We urge everyone to take safety precautions anytime they encounter a flooded road. “Turn around, don’t drown.” Just 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock over and carry off an adult. Twelve inches of water can float a small car.


Buncombe County landslide map

Here is an online tool people might find helpful.

To see if your property lies within a landslide zone, visit gis.buncombecounty.org/buncomap for GIS access. Once you get there, click on “debris flow pathways” under the map layers.


APD reaches out to the homeless
in advance of the storm

Safety of everyone, including vulnerable populations, is important to the City of Asheville. We realize some individuals don’t have regular access to computers or TVs and may have missed Hurricane Florence safety messages.
For that reason, the Asheville Police Department has worked with BeLoved Asheville and Homeward Bound of WNC to create a map of homeless encampments that are in flood-prone areas.
Based on this map these two organizations are sending out teams to provide those living in these areas resources and transportation. Find more information on that effort at this link.


State of emergency declared

On Thursday, Buncombe County issued a State of Emergency, to include Asheville.

Earlier, President Donald Trump has declared states of emergency for North and South Carolina and Virginia, opening the way for federal aid. Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for North Carolina as well.


Event cancellations

Due to potential impacts from the storm as it moves inland, the following events have been cancelled or rescheduled:

  •         Movies in the Park Friday in Pack Square Park.
  •         Brewgrass on Saturday, rescheduled.
  •         Open Streets on Sunday.