Local News

Clean-Up Efforts Start After Severe Weather Rolls Through Central N.C.

Posted March 8, 2005

— A line of severe thunderstorms that moved through central North Carolina Tuesday morning brought hail, strong winds and heavy rain and left thousands without power.

Parts of Orange, Moore, Johnston and Sampson counties were placed under a severe thunderstorm warning earlier Tuesday. As the system moved through, hail was reported in Chapel Hill, Hillsborough and Durham. Later, hail was reported in Garner and Youngsville.

County Damage Reports

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Wayne

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Cumberland

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Johnston

SLIDESHOW:

When the hail, strong winds and heavy rain moved through, thousands of people were left without power. At the height of power outages, more than 17,000 people were affected in central North Carolina. Since then power in Apex has been restored and several areas have seen numbers of those without power improve.

When fierce winds came through at about 10 a.m. in Clayton, Willis Upstead ducked behind a tractor in his shed.

"I really didn't know what was going on and after it did start up, it was too late to try and come home, so I just stayed there," he said.

High winds toppled trees across Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh near Oberlin Road, causing police to shut down the heavily traveled street. A BB&T bank in Selma in Johnston County lost part of its roof at about 10:15 a.m. Tuesday. There were no injuries. Selma police report the bank will most likely be closed the rest of the day.

A small tree hit a roof on a daycare in Cary, but no one was injured. An accident on Glenwood Avenue shut down both sides of the road at Lake Boone Trail. Police said the driver lost control, hit a tree and a utility pole.

Two chicken houses in Cumberland County were destroyed, killing thousands of chickens.

The storm caused a path of damage along Highway 70 and blew the tin roof off a barn at a North Carolina State University research facility. Researchers in another building heard the roar and ran to an interior room. The wind also kicked up trouble at the Johnston County Airport. A garage door blew down on top of a car.

"I hadn't been scared at all until that happened. Then, it got unnerving for a very short time," said Wayne Dilliard.

The National Weather Service has not determined whether a tornado touched down in any parts of central North Carolina.

There were no serious injuries reported from the thunderstorms.

At the peak, more than 34,000 Duke Power customers were without power. By afternoon, Duke had reduced the number of outages to 7,500 in North Carolina.

Of that total, 4,000 were in the greater Charlotte area, said Duke Power's Tim Pettit. The Charlotte-based utility was projecting that most customers would have their power restored by midnight, he said.

Power was out at some Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, but most still held classes. Charlotte Catholic High School sent students home early after a tree fell and hit the building.

A large oak tree fell and broke windows in four classrooms at Cochrane Middle School. No students were in the school when the damage took place, officials said.

In the Cabarrus County town of Midland, wind gusts damaged the roof of the volunteer fire department. Several businesses in north Charlotte also sustained damaged to their roofs.

Later Tuesday, the thunderstorms had moved east, causing similar problems in the northeastern part of the state.

Stormy weather in the Triangle kept Gov. Mike Easley, House Speaker Jim Black, Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand and other legislators from traveling to Bath to celebrate the Beaufort County town's 300th anniversary.

A pair of state-owned planes carrying Easley and the legislators remained on the tarmac at Raleigh-Durham International Airport due to storms and high winds.

"They couldn't get off the ground,'' said Easley, adding he was told the winds were 75 mph up to more than 2,000 feet off the ground around the airport.

The General Assembly's special commemorative session in Bath was held despite the coastal storms - and a short power outage during the event.

The storm also brought a late-season snowfall that closed schools or delayed openings in several mountain counties, including Madison, Mitchell and Yancey.

Schools in Haywood, Graham and Swain counties operated on a two-hour delay because of an inch of snow and near whiteout conditions at higher elevations along the Tennessee border, the National Weather Service reported.

A snow advisory for northern mountain counties was to remain in effect until 6 p.m Tuesday, with up to three inches of snow forecast.

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