Local News

Cleanup Follows Harnett Tornado, Widespread Thunderstorms

Posted May 3, 2004

— The National Weather Service confirms a tornado carved a path of damage 2 1/4 miles long and 300 yards wide along Christian Light Road in northern Harnett County Sunday.

The National Weather Service determined it was an F-1 tornado, which means winds were anywhere between 73 and 112 mph.

The tornado touched down at 5:19 p.m., the National Weather Service said. Though it was only on the ground for a few minutes, roofs were ripped off several homes and hundreds of residents lost power. No one was injured.

The weather service issued a tornado warning for the area about five minutes before the first sightings were reported.

"All the conditions were right for a tornado," said Brandon Locklear, a weather service meteorologist. "It was a very strong storm. It really grew and gained strength as it traveled."

While DOT crews cleared the roads of debris Monday, homeowners worked to removing downed trees and patch up roofs. The wind was so strong it even bent satellite dishes in half. One homeowner lost over 20 trees in his yard alone.

Severe thunderstorms toppled trees and clipped power lines across central and eastern North Carolina. In the Edgecombe County town of Macclesfield, trees were mangled with power lines, the high winds leveled brick and tree limbs tore through rooftops.

In Johnston County, near Smithfield, the wind rolled two semitrailers and sent a shed flying into a home.

In Goldsboro, a historic building that served as a memorial for war veterans

was destroyed in a fire

that officials believe was caused by lightning, Mayor Alphonso King said.

The Wayne County Memorial Community Building, built in 1927, was used as a recreation center. It housed a swimming pool, gymnasium and offices.

No one was inside.

"The building is a total loss," said Neil Bartlett, Goldsboro's recreation director. "I can't believe it. We were scheduled to start registering for summer swim lessons first thing in the morning."

About 1,700 homes in Chapel Hill were without power for an hour and a half because of a downed tree, said Duke Power spokeswoman Cathey Bennett.

The state Highway Patrol said Christopher Shiloh, 17, was killed when his 1993 Pontiac hydroplaned on Interstate 85 near U.S. 74 in Kings Mountain and slammed into a stopped police car.

The patrol said a Kings Mountain police officer was responding to a call to help a sport utility vehicle that had slipped off the road. The officer, Timothy Bell, and the driver of the SUV were treated at a local hospital and released.

The storms formed just west of South Carolina and moved northeast, according to the National Weather Service. In Charlotte, the weather service reported 1.36 inches of rain, but the total for the year remains about 6 inches below normal.

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