Winds gusted to 62 mph overnight

Many in the Havelock area are waking up without power this morning after Hurricane Matthew brought high winds overnight.

The storm, now considered post-tropical but still with 75 mph winds, was off the North Carolina coast and moving east as of Sunday morning.

Winds of up to 45 mph are still possible this morning but will be decreasing in the afternoon with clearing skies, according to the National Weather Service in Newport.

Winds in Havelock peaked at 62 mph overnight, knocking out power to many in the Havelock area. A Carteret-Craven Electric transformer on Fontana Boulevard blew, and many customers in the eastern part of Havelock lost power. Duke Energy reports more than 600 power outages in the Havelock area.

Pleasant fall weather is forecasted throughout next week, with mostly sunny skies and highs around 70 and climbing to the middle and upper 70s by late in the week.

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Forecasters described a “serious inland flooding event” as Hurricane Matthew continues to move north and east through North Carolina.

Though Havelock area has largely been spared of heavy rainfall throughout much of the day, forecasters believe the heavy rain that has been flooding inland areas will slide east as Matthew begins to move through the Cape Fear region of southeastern North Carolina before heading out to sea.

The National Weather Service in Newport is still calling for 8 to 15 inches of rain in the area from the storm. As of 8 p.m. Saturday, the Havelock area had seen 3.77 inches of rain, and the weather service predicted an additional 7 inches of rain for the Havelock area overnight.

That much rain is likely to cause flash flooding and major river flooding, according to the weather service.

The highest wind gust recorded in Havelock has been 62 mph, which is tropical storm force. Matthew is a weakening system, but the weather service predicts winds could still reach up to 60 mph in gusts. Forecasters report winds on the back side of the storm are stronger than on the front side.

Havelock authorities reported that a tree came down on power lines around 8 p.m. near Church Road and Miller Boulevard. A portion of Miller Boulevard has been closed as power lines are on the street. Power is out to a number of homes in the area.

At 11 p.m., a tree came down on East Main Street near Shepard Street. Also shortly after 11 p.m., a transformer blew on Fontana Boulevard, and many Carteret-Craven Electric customers in eastern Havelock lost power.

Moderate storm surge producing Neuse River levels of 3 to 6 feet above normal are expected, according to the weather service.

Meanwhile, work crews arrived around 3:30 p.m. Saturday near the entrance to MacDonald Downs where a power line had come down. Power was out in areas of Tucker Creek and Carolina Pines, affecting about 1,245 customers, according to Duke Energy. Power was restored to the area around 5 p.m.

Time Warner (Spectrum) also reported outages of phone, cable and Internet service in the area, but service was also restored.

Lauren Wargo, spokeswoman for the city of Havelock, reported no major problems in the city as of 5 p.m. Saturday. She said staff was on standby to respond to any issues if needed. She said personnel were monitoring weather forecasts and that some ditches in the city were already getting full.

The area remained under a flood watch, flash flood warning, tornado watch and tropical storm warning as of 8 p.m.

Travel is not recommended.

Havelock and Craven County have declared a state of emergency and Havelock High School has been opened as a Red Cross shelter.

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Hurricane Matthew was barely clinging to hurricane status.

The 2 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center on Hurricane Matthew indicates maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.

The storm’s movement is to the northeast at 12 miles per hour.

Hurricane Matthew is currently located about 40 miles southwest of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and onshore.

According to the National Hurricane Center, citing aircraft reconnaissance and land-based radar, the center of Hurricane Matthew crossed the coast of South Carolina near Cape Romain.

The storm is expected to move offshore into the Atlantic south of the North Carolina/South Carolina state line and as it passes south of Cape Fear, is expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm.

Locally, areas of Tucker Creek are now without power according to reports. Cable is also out in some areas north and west of Havelock including Carolina Pines.

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Forecasters are warning that a weakening Hurricane Matthew still poses a threat to Eastern North Carolina.

Matthew made landfall as a minimal hurricane with winds of 75 mph on Saturday morning in South Carolina, and the National Hurricane Center expects the storm to weaken to a tropical storm by the time it moves north through the Cape Fear region of southeastern North Carolina before turning east out to sea.

Forecasts still call for potentially up to 14 inches of rain in the area, which could cause flash flooding and major river flooding. As of 11 a.m. Saturday, Havelock has recorded 2.29 inches of rain since Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Newport. Havelock also reported a peak wind gust of 40 mph, which is tropical storm force, as of 11 a.m. Saturday, according to the weather service.

Many businesses in Havelock were open on Saturday morning, some with signs indicating that they could close early depending on weather conditions.

The weather service calls for rain to increase throughout the day, with up to 4 inches in additional rainfall coming later today, another 4 inches tonight and another 2 inches overnight and early Sunday. Wind gusts of 50 to possibly 65 mph are possible.

The area remains under a tropical storm warning, flood watch and tornado watch.