School districts across the state are closing early today in anticipation of thunderstorms, strong winds and possible tornadoes.
Wake, Durham, Johnston, Cumberland and Sampson County schools are among dozens of districts letting out about three hours early this afternoon. District officials say the dismissal is an unusual precaution. But they want to make sure students are safe at home and not on the bus when the severe weather is expected to hit.
"We're typically under tornado warnings and tornado watches, and we don't release," Sampson County Schools spokeswoman Susan Warren said. "But I think because the forecast of severe weather was so great they just determined that it necessitated dismissing early."
Wake County spokeswoman Lisa Luten says dismissing three hours early will head-off transportation problems.
"Our concern is about having children stranded at school and about power failures—not being able to contact their parents and not being able to get home after the storm hits," she said.
Luten says the early dismissal should allow 90 percent of students to make it home before 2 o clock, when forecasters predict the worst of the weather will hit central North Carolina. She says Wake County buses should get all bus riders home by 2:30 p.m.
Severe weather is expected to move out of central and Eastern North Carolina after about 4 this afternoon.