RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Gov. Roy Cooper is reminding North Carolinians to be prepared for possible power outages and flooding as Tropical Storm Elsa makes its way into the state.

The outer bands of the storm began to move into the southeastern part of the state earlier on Thursday.

“Residents and visitors to North Carolina should keep safety in mind as Tropical Storm Elsa passes through our state today,” said Cooper. “Everyone should stay alert to rapidly changing weather conditions and have a plan should they need to move to another location.”

The latest update from the National Hurricane Center at 11 a.m. showed Elsa was approximately 80 miles southwest of Raleigh and moving northeast at 20 mph.

Winds are sustained at 45 mph.

“Some strengthening is possible tonight and Friday while the system moves close to the northeastern United States. Elsa is forecast to become a post-tropical cyclone by Friday night,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Elsa could dump up to three inches of rain across central North Carolina. Up to five inches of rain could fall in localized areas with poor drainage.

With so much rain forecast in such a short period of time, road flooding could become a serious issue in some places.

In a release from the governor’s office, he warns that driving on flooded roads should be avoided.

“When water is moving across a roadway, you don’t know what’s underneath the water. The surface of the road could be weakened or washed away, and you could be driving into a hole,” the release says.

As the saying goes, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”

The State Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh is also tracking Elsa’s progress as it moves through South Carolina and into North Carolina.

“The storm’s impacts can vary by location,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Chief of Staff Will Ray. “Heavy rain, gusty winds, flooding, tornados and power outages are all possible with this storm, so please pay close attention to the forecast for your area.”

Nine counties in central North Carolina are now under a tornado watch until 3 p.m., including Cumberland, Hoke, Sampson, Edgecombe, Johnston, Wayne, Harnett, Nash, and Wilson.

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect along the North Carolina coast and a flash flood watch will be in effect until 6 p.m. across central North Carolina on Thursday.

North Carolina residents should be sure they:

  • Have multiple ways to receive weather information from reliable sources.
  • Review your personal emergency plan and know your evacuation routes.
  • Check your emergency supply kit, which should contain food, water, prescription medicines, charging cords, batteries and other essentials to support your family for several days.
  • Be sure to plan for elderly relatives and pets.
  • Make sure your insurance is up-to-date.

To prepare for possible power outages, or if your power goes out, the governor’s office says to remember these tips:

  • Make sure your cellphone and other electronic or medical devices are fully charged, along with any backup batteries
  • Don’t park your car under trees or power lines
  • Use battery-powered lights, instead of candles, if your power goes out
  • Avoid running generators or grills in your home or garage if your power goes out. Deadly carbon monoxide fumes can accumulate while using generators or grills indoors.

For more information on how to stay safe and be ready for any inclement weather, visit ReadyNC.org.