Published: 2014-04-26 14:20:00
Updated: 2014-04-27 10:16:09
Posted April 26, 2014
Updated April 27, 2014
Elizabeth City, N.C. — Residents across central and eastern North Carolina were assessing damage and cleaning up on Saturday, one day after powerful storms, several of which produced tornadoes, rocked dozens of communities in several counties.
The National Weather Service confirmed Saturday afternoon that six tornadoes touched down Friday evening in Pitt, Beaufort, Perquimans, Halifax and Pasquotank counties as a powerful cold front roared through the state.
One storm cell produced tornadoes in Chicod, Chocowinity and Whichards Beach, communities in Pitt and Beaufort counties, as it moved southwest to northeast about 7 p.m.
According to the National Weather Service in Morehead City, preliminary surveys indicate that the tornadoes ranged from a weak EF2 in Chicod to an EF3 in Whichards Beach.
Beaufort County Emergency Management Director John Pack said storms in Beaufort County injured 16 people and severely damaged or destroyed about 200 homes.
Hunter Pridgen captured video of the storm as it moved through Chocowinity.
At one point, Pack said, 8,000 people were without power. By midday Saturday, the number was down to 300 and he said power should be restored to the least damaged homes by Sunday.
Local officials in Beaufort County declared a state of emergency late Friday before the Red Cross opened an overnight shelter to residents who had lost homes. The shelter is at Snowd Branch Church of God, at 328 Voa Road in Washington.
Eighty miles to the northeast, another powerful storm produced at least three tornadoes in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties at about 8 p.m., National Weather Service officials confirmed Saturday.
The first tornado, an EF2, struck the Mount Hermon area north of N.C. Highway 17. The second, an EF1, hit near Halls Creek Road and continued northeast into Elizabeth City, officials said.
The third, also an EF1, hit parallel to a section of Nixonton Road and Body Road.
In Halifax County an EF1 tornado touched down near Brinkleyville, just before 4 p.m.
EF1 and EF2 tornadoes can produce winds between 65 and 135 mph.
In total, the National Weather Service received 32 reports of wind damage, 36 reports of hail damage and nine reports of tornadoes during Friday's round of severe weather. Tornadoes were reported in Beaufort, Chowan, Greene, Halifax, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.
Gov. Pat McCrory praised law enforcement and emergency personnel on Saturday.
"Thankfully, we do not have any reported fatalities from the string of severe thunderstorms that raked through the northern half of our state," he said in a statement. "Last night's storms provide a good reminder to us all that with the warmer weather, the probability of severe storms and tornadoes increases. This is the time of year we must play close attention to the weather forecasts."