SOUTHEASTERN N.C. -- A flash flood warning has been issued for northeastern New Hanover County and Pender County until 9 p.m., according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
At 5:54 p.m., Doppler radar indicated heavy rain across the area that could cause flooding. Up to one inch of rain has already fallen.
Some locations that could be affected include Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Burgaw, Surf City, Figure Eight Island, Hampstead, Topsail Beach, Maple Hill, Cape Fear Community College's North Campus, Rocky Point, Murrayville, Castle Hayne, Scotts Hill, Ogden and Mayfaire.
An additional two inches of rain is possible in these areas, the alert stated.
A flash flood warning means flooding is imminent or occurring.
Drivers are advised to "turn around, don't drown" when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.
The entire Cape Fear region is already under a flash flood watch until Tuesday morning due to a rain system capable of dropping 3-5 inches of rain. The system edged its way into the region Monday afternoon and could keep soaking the Wilmington area -- parts of which are already waterlogged -- through early Tuesday.
Steven Pfaff, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Wilmington office, said the complex system moved through South Carolina Monday morning, drenching portions of the Palmetto State in 1-2 inches of rain an hour.
“This is a potent storm system with the amount of rainfall it is bringing,” Pfaff said. "Several inches in an hour is too much for the ground to soak up."
The first heavy rain bands arrived in the Cape Fear region Monday afternoon and were expected to continue into the night, Pfaff said, bringing with it thunderstorms and the chance for an isolated tornado.
Since Sunday, when the rain began, the weather service's official rain gauge at the Wilmington International Airport has measured nearly 2 inches of rain as of noon Monday.
The projected rainfall through Tuesday would topple Wilmington’s year-to-date rainfall total -- which sat at 11.59 inches Monday morning -- over the 13.75-inch average.
“This rainfall will help erode that 2-inch deficit,” Pfaff said.
Steven Still, director of New Hanover County Emergency Management, said his department has received briefings from the weather service and will continue to monitor the forecast -- though they are not looking at any one area in particular.
“This rainfall is definitely a concern," he said. "We are keeping an eye on it. Any wind this evening is also looking to be of concern -- especially with all this saturation already."
On Tuesday, a less-severe system drawing moisture from the Atlantic will make its way into the area, which could result in isolated showers through the day before skies begin to clear, Pfaff said.
Reporter Hunter Ingram can be reached at 910-343-2327 or Hunter.Ingram@StarNewsOnline.com.