After weeks of wondering, Bladen County, along with most of North Carolina, escaped the worst of Hurricane Irma’s wrath, as the storm took a late turn northwest and unleashed its fury on Georgia and Tennessee rather than the expected track that would have taken it straight through the Tar Heel State.
Although the storm didn’t bring the anticipated devastation, it did leave a mark, especially on schools.
On Sunday, Bladen County Schools announced first that schools would be delayed for students, then that school would be closed altogether Monday. Monday night, it announced changes for Tuesday, saying it would “err on the side of caution” due to weather conditions showing “continued rain and storm activity occurring in the early hours of the morning especially between 3 a.m to 5 a.m.” Students went in on a two-hour delay. All after-school activities, including sports, were called off, and the Board of Education’s monthly meeting originally scheduled for Monday night was postponed until Tuesday night.
Due to the missed school day, Oct. 31, originally a workday, has been changed to a regular day for students and staff.
Elizabethtown Christian Academy also took precautions, releasing students early Monday in anticipation of high winds and rain. Students went to school at regular time on Tuesday. Emereau: Bladen cancelled school both Monday and Tuesday. Operating on normal schedules both Monday and Tuesday were Bladen Community College and Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy.
According to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Monday brought less-than-stellar weather. The high for the day was 70 degrees, a 15-degree departure from normal and 23 degrees less than last year. Though only trace amounts of train were received, sustained winds measured 22 mph, with gusts up to 32 mph. The average wind speed for the day was 13.6 mph.
Tuesday saw conditions deteriorating with rain in the morning, but improving overall in the afternoon. Morning rains brought an additional 1.87 inches, bringing the monthly total to 4.68 inches, 2.64 inches more than normal for September. Winds were sustained at 21 mph with gusts up to 29 mph. By afternoon, however, skies had cleared, and the sun brought the temperature up to 86 degrees.
While North Carolinians are looking at Irma in their rear view mirror, ahead lies Hurricane Jose. After making a loop in the Atlantic on Tuesday, hurricane models began honing in on the storm’s path, which, as of Wednesday, no longer included the North Carolina coast.
Since the loop in the storm’s path threw models off, Monday’s projected path showed the storm heading northeast well in advance of any landfall in the Caribbean or the U.S. East Coast. After the loop, however, Tuesday showed Jose heading for the U.S., with its sights set on the North Carolina/South Carolina border. By Wednesday, however, the Category 1 storm was located at 65° W 25ºN, or approximately 500 miles north of Puerto Rico.
The National Weather Service began predicting it would continue northwest for nearly 500 miles while downgrading to a tropical storm. It is expected to make a sharp turn to the northeast and head back out to sea, with the outer edges of the storm missing the Outer Banks by nearly 200 miles.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.