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Weekend forecast in EC: Potatoes and rain

Potato Fest Setup pt2

Work crews with Deggeler Attractions began setting up rides along a closed portion of Water Street for this weekend’s N.C. Potato Festival in Elizabeth City, Wednesday. In the background is the large Ferris wheel.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Thursday, May 17, 2018

If you attend this weekend’s N.C. Potato Festival in Elizabeth City, you might want to bring along an umbrella.

After having great weather for the past several years of the annual festival, organizers are facing the prospect of rain all three days of this year’s event.

“We’re not talking about that,” Cindy Williams, a member of the N.C. Potato Festival Committee said Wednesday, referring to the weekend forecast. "It's going to be beautiful weather for our downtown festival."

As of Wednesday evening, however, the National Weather Service was calling for a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms for Friday evening, the first night of the festival.

The chance of rain on Saturday, the festival’s second day, is even higher: 70 percent. The chance of rain Saturday evening will fall to 40 percent but rise again on Sunday after 2 p.m. to 50 percent. The festival ends Sunday at 6 p.m.

Eswar Iyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hampton Roads, Virginia, said despite his agency’s forecast, it’s really hard to predict weekend weather three or four days ahead of time.

"It's tough to pinpoint exactly what's going to happen, just given the nature of this rain chance," he said.

Iyer said the forecast for Elizabeth City will be more reliable 24 hours before the start of the Potato Festival on Friday.

Iyer said the source of the rain that fell both Wednesday afternoon in Elizabeth City and that’s expected to fall over the next few days can be traced to tropical moisture streaming in from the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

He said while the Potato Festival “is not going to be a total washout,” it will probably be a good idea to bring an umbrella.

Christy Saunders, coordinator for Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Management, said emergency officials are concerned about the prospect of rain during the weekend festival.

"We'll be monitoring that continually throughout the entire event," Saunders said. "We have a plan in place for inclimate weather."

Asked if she, too, thinks event-goers need to bring along an umbrella, she replied in the affirmative.

Festival organizers say the event will not be canceled. It will go on rain or shine.

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