LUMBERTON — The stifling heat wave is showing signs of letting up, and county residents can expect cooler temperatures and some showers this week as a cold front sweeps through the Southeast.
“That’s going to be a recipe for a good chance for shower and thunderstorms for the next few days,” Stephen Keebler, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said on Monday. He added that North Carolina can expect 1 to 3 inches of rainfall, and even 2 to 4 inches in some parts during the week.
Some isolated areas may receive more rainfall, he said.
The storms rumbled into Lumberton Monday afternoon and evening. The Lumber River State Park measured 1.60 inches of rain Monday, while the Lumberton Regional Airport measured about a half inch.
According to meteorologist Dave Loewenthal, “most of the action” struck Florence, S.C., which saw a wind gust of 61 mph and downed trees and power lines. Maximum winds in Lumberton only reached about 13 mph, Loewenthal said.
“We’re expecting more thunderstorms this afternoon and evening,” he said. “A few of those could have some hail or some gusty winds in them.”
While Florence got the bulk of the high winds, Robeson County had its share of power outages from the storm. The Lumber River Electric Membership Corporation reported that 1,200 customers lost power in the Union area, according to Carmen Dietrich, vice president of marketing and member services.
The outage was caused by a tree on a power line, Dietrich said.
“They were able to isolate that, which brought our numbers down to just over 200 while they repaired that,” Dietrich said, adding that those 200 customers remained without power for about an hour.
Progress Energy Carolina reported about 570 customers in the county that lost power during the storm.
About 370 in Fairmont lost power for an hour at 4:03 p.m. when a tree limb came into contact with a power line, Progress Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said.
In Maxton, 25 customers lost power from 5 to about 9 p.m., Brooks said. A second outage in Fairmont caused by lightning knocked power out from 7:40 to 9:15 p.m. Lightning caused a power outage in Lumberton from 8:35 p.m. to 2:03 a.m. In Red Springs, a dead tree falling on some power lines knocked out power for 30 customers from 12:40 to 2:55 a.m.
“There have been some additional small outages scattered about in the county,” Brooks said, including one in Maxton caused by a storm at 6 a.m. today He said that was restored at about 8:40 a.m.
“There are no customers out in Robeson County right now,” Brooks said at 9:30 a.m.
Progress Energy and LREMC reported no difficulties meeting the demands of the triple-digit temperatures during the past week.
According to the weather service, Lumberton is 2inches above average in rainfall this year. Fayetteville is 1 inch below normal, and Wilmington is 7 inches below normal, Keebler said.
The cold front will bring with it some welcomed cooler temperatures to quell the recent wave of triple-digit highs, including Sunday’s high of 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Lumberton.
The average high for this time of year is 91 degrees, Keebler said.
Highs this week should be in the lower 90s today and in the upper 80s on Wednesday and Thursday, with lows near 70, Keebler said.
“It looks like we’ve got a good chance of some rain this week,” he said. “The side benefit is, it’s gonna cool down.”
Mac Malloy, the Robeson County extension field crops agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, said no extensive crop damage has been reported that is associated with the heat.
“Most of the corn has already been pollinated, so it should be OK,” he said. “… Soybeans are still young enough that yes it has some impact, but they’ve still got much season left to compensate for heat damage.”
Malloy said the biggest concern now is insect “flare-ups,” which are common after days of high temperatures.
“Spider mites in the peanuts and cotton are most common. You usually see a flare-up with them with real high temperatures,” he said. “… Hopefully we’ll get some relief soon.”