Subtropical Storm Ana late for ECU graduation

Subtropical Storm Ana was late to ECU's graduation, and that was perfectly fine for thousands of people who streamed into Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

Some 5,000 students are graduating today.

The university had feared the approaching storm might put a damper on the outdoor ceremonies, but partly sunny skies without any rain greeted graduates, family and friends.

UNC System President Dr. Tom Ross spoke to the 2015 graduates. Ross is finishing five years as head of the university system, being forced to resign several months ago.

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East Carolina University officials are closely watching the upcoming weather because of Friday morning's outside graduation.

The university says the commencement will continue even if showers or moderate rain happens. But, ECU says the ceremony may have to be cancelled if severe weather hits the area.

"The university has ponchos they're going to hand out to the students for the platform party to try to make them as comfortable as they can be," says Lt. Chris Sutton with ECU Police.

A low off Florida could develop into a subtropical or tropical system by Thursday or Friday. WITN's meteorologists say the chances of rain will increase Thursday afternoon, with rain bans moving through on Friday.

“If the outdoor ceremony is canceled due to severe weather, we don’t have an indoor facility that could hold all of our graduates along with their family members and guests. However, the individual unit ceremonies will be held,” said Dr. Chris Locklear, ECU Chief of Staff.

Nearly 5,000 students are expected to attend graduation at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

ECU says if severe weather does cancel commencement, individual college, school and departmental ceremonies will happen as planned.