Lee makes for soggy Labor Day
By Hugh Fisher
SALISBURY — For many, Labor Day was supposed to be the last big bash of summer.
But the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee moved through Monday afternoon and overnight, with crashing thunder and an estimated 3 to 4 inches of rain.
The tropical system which formed in the Gulf of Mexico brought brief downpours and the threat of tornadoes.
Radar reports of strong storm cells prompted tornado warnings to be issued for several counties, including Rowan and Cabarrus.
As of 9 p.m., the National Weather Service said only one touchdown had been confirmed, in Union County near Monroe.
“We don’t have any reports of injuries,” spokesman Terry Benthall said.
“We did expect a significant amount of rainfall to be associated with the remnants of Lee,” Benthall said.
Hail was reported in Union County, with an unconfirmed report of small hail falling in Rowan.
Benthall said that isolated areas might see as much as 5 inches of rain before the last of Lee moved out of the area by this morning.
The bad weather mixed with heavy traffic resulted in several accidents reported on Interstate 85 in Rowan County throughout the evening.
No serious injuries or deaths were reported.
Near Mt. Ulla, West Rowan volunteer firefighters got their trucks stuck in mud while responding to a fire call.
According to radio communications about 9:30 p.m., a fire of unknown cause was reported by a passerby off Childers Road near N.C. 801.
It was not immediately clear whether the fire was a controlled burn or the result of other activity.
The extra rain was good news for farmers, maybe, but not so good for those looking for fun on Labor Day.
Randy Gettys, manager of Eaman Park Club Pool, hoped to get some free labor out of Labor Day.
Monday was the last day of the season at the community pool. At the end of the summer, he said, members gather to hold a potluck dinner and put away all of the pool furniture and clean up before closing.
“What typically happens is we have a big turnout … and after, everybody pitches in,” he said.
“If you’d come last year, there were probably 30 or 40 people here,” he said.
Instead, rain showers and a tornado warning resulted in cancellation of the event.
“There’s me, my son and the lifeguards right now,” Getty said.
“We’ll probably organize a work crew next weekend.”
The traditional end of summer was celebrated in a subdued fashion, even without the weather concerns.
According to AAA, travel for the holiday weekend was forecast to be down by 2.4 percent from Labor Day 2010.
Gasoline prices were expected to be a factor.
The soggy end to the season hasn’t dampened everyone’s spirits.
Out and about in Salisbury, young people had mixed opinions about the end of summer.
Tyrone Haynes of Salisbury, 13, said he’s ready to be back in school.
He’s an eighth-grader at Knox Middle School.
John Patella, 15, said he would definitely miss the summer months.
“Just the free time. I travel a lot, so, traveling and baseball,” he said.
Patella plays as a utility infielder for Carson High’s baseball team.
As he floated in the water, Spencer Gettys, son of pool manager Randy, said he’d miss summer, but in the short term, the end of the season will be a treat.
“They’re going to get to eat leftover concession snacks,” Randy said.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.