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Heavy hail replaced by mostly clear skies Wednesday

Posted May 21, 2008

— Wednesday's weather will be tame compared with Tuesday's severe storms that pounded hail and heavy rain on much of North Carolina.

Scattered sprinkles and some cloudy skies are expected Wednesday. However, that is no comparison to Tuesday's thunder, strong winds, heavy rain and hail. Raleigh reported 0.43 inches of rain from the storm.

"Boy, it was a rough afternoon and evening yesterday," WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

The rough weather threw punches at Triangle commuters during Tuesday's evening rush, then another storm system raised tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings in Cumberland County.

National Weather Service spotters – volunteers trained in weather reporting – reported hail ranging from penny to golf-ball-size, and photos sent to WRAL.com showed yards, driveways and decks inundated.

Wind damage and downed trees were reported in wake of the storms. Progress Energy reported nearly 7,000 customers without power in Johnston County. Duke Power reported about 2,000 Durham County customers without power.

Power was restored to all customers except two in Moore County, officials said Wednesday morning.

A spokeswoman for Raleigh Durham International Airport said there was heavy rain and lightning at the airport, but no major flight delays occurred.

Emergency officials said about a half-dozen homes, one business and sheriff's patrol cars were damaged by falling trees in Pittsboro.

"When I first pulled into the driveway, my first words was 'God is good,' because it could have been so much worse,” Teresa Farrell said.

A 70-year-old red oak tree crashed down during the storm. The tree grazed the side of Farrell’s house. A few more feet and "it would have demolished that whole end of the house,” Farrell added.

A huge tree came down on Jackie Green’s house. It destroyed an empty mobile home in his yard. The force knocked over a gas tank and ripped the power lines out of the house.

"No one is dead. No one is injured. So I’m happy,” Green said.

The storm also uprooted an enormous tree behind the sheriff's office, crushing at least five vehicles and a storage building.

"Luckily, the old building that it went through is scheduled to be torn down in a couple of years. We used it for storage, basically,” Emergency Operations Director Tony Tucker said.

During the afternoon, numerous trees were reported down on N.C. Highway 39 in Vance County.

A tree fell on a power line, sending the live wire across N.C. Highway 210 in Smithfield. Crews blocked the road while the line was removed. Nearly 7,000 customers were without power during the storm in Johnston County.

Earlier, heavy storms moved across the North Carolina-Virginia border counties, The 24-hour rain totals included 0.53 inches at Danville, Va., and 0.71 inches at South Hill, Va. In the same period, Raleigh collected 0.43 inches, and Fayetteville had 0.47 inches between 7 and 8 p.m. in an hour Tuesday evening.

A third of an inch of rain fell on RDU between 6 and 7 p.m., the National Weather Service reported.

Tornado reports

A tornado warning was issued for southern Cumberland County just after 7 p.m. when National Weather Service radar spotted a tornado over Hope Mills, 11 miles south of Fayetteville, moving east at 41 mph.

A tree fell on train tracks at Brisson Road and Lake Upchurch Road, just south of Hope Mills. Emergency communication had to stop a train that was scheduled to come down those tracks Tuesday night.

In Moore County, several fire departments said they had been called to respond to a report of a tornado near Pinebluff just after 6 p.m.

Doppler radar detected tornado conditions in Holly Springs, but no damage was reported.

Forecast to clear

After sundown Tuesday, storms faded and temperatures fell into the 60s.

Wednesday will be partly sunny with a 20 percent chance of rain. Highs should be in the mid-70s with winds from the west at 5 to 10 mph.

“Right now, it is (looking) dry and pleasant through the holiday,” meteorologist Mike Maze said in looking toward Memorial Day on Monday. A warming trend will put temperatures into the 80s by week's end.

"All in all, the weekend's not looking bad at all," Maze said, predicting that the holiday would be warm and dry.


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  • Smorgas_Of_Borg May 21, 2008

    How did they measure hailstones before golf was invented?

  • GetRight May 21, 2008

    We were on I95 headed back to Raleigh from Sumter, SC yesterday. There were several funnel clouds visible but didn't see any rotation. When we hit the rain just south of Fayetteville we had to pull over under a bridge as visibility went from clear to about 40ft. We waited about there for 30 minutes while the worst of the storm passed.

    I lived 9 years in Tulsa and survived a few close calls with tornadoes. Yesterday's weather was eerily familiar; sudden black sky, sudden very strong winds, hail blowing sideways, trees blowing steadily in one direction (not back & forth) and near zero visibility. It was a wild ride.