NWS: Damage caused by 'impressive' winds, not tornado

Posted January 12, 2014
Updated January 13, 2014

— The National Weather Service said Sunday that significant wind damage from a line of powerful storms that rolled through central North Carolina on Saturday was not the result of a tornado.

Preliminary results from a storm survey from the area between Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Franklinton "conclude that all of the damage occurred from impressive straight line winds," the NWS said in a statement. "There were numerous locations where damage occurred, and in one particular location, over 100 trees were blown down in a classic straight line wind pattern."

A final assessment of the storm damage is expected later this week.

The wind is to blame for the death of Cheryl Harrison, 50, of Raleigh, who was walking with her husband and son on Abbotts Creek Trail Saturday afternoon when a large tree limb broke and fell onto the family.

Trees across the area were uprooted and homes and buildings across Wake County, including Brier Creek, where condos under construction, were ripped from the ground by gusty winds.

At the peak of the storms, 46,000 Duke Energy Progress customers were without power. More than 1,300 in Wake, Chatham, Franklin and Lee counties remained without power Sunday afternoon.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport unofficially picked up the second-strongest wind gust ever recorded at 86.3 mph, according to the NWS.

The previous record was set back in 1954 when Hurricane Hazel produced wind gusts recorded at 90 mph.

Sunday’s weather was much calmer with sunshine and temperatures in the mid-50s. Clouds will roll into the area on Monday, and rain is possible for Tuesday.


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  • bigbr0ther Jan 13, 2014

    The lady that passed away was walking the trails well before the storms arrived. She did not have a cell phone on her nor did her family that was with her. The storms blew in at such a fast rate that they did not have time to seek shelter.

  • Oct Jan 13, 2014

    To Conservativevoter, pine trees are very apt to fall during high winds, but buildings should not. Countrymandhc is right this whole new wave of building by tract builders is scary and we are sure to see more incidents like this in the future. It was just lucky no one had moved in. Perhaps next time the luck will not hold out. Also, I have wondered what people we doing walking the trails with the weather alerts all over the place. Any comments.

  • countrymandhc Jan 13, 2014

    I've done framing for 30 years . This had everything to do with cheap labor ,cheap materials and the bottom line . Only thing contractor worried about is money . They hire the cheapest subs they can . Also the contractor here is a tract builder so even worse.

  • ConservativeVoter Jan 13, 2014

    Normally with straight line winds you don't see this damage other places.

    The pine trees in Raleigh are waiting to fall and break.

  • ConservativeVoter Jan 13, 2014

    There is a point when it doesn't matter whether a tornado or straight line winds did the damage.

  • childofNC Jan 13, 2014

    Those condos had only been framed. What that means is they were far from from being completed. Notice that the ones that were further along remained standing. I doubt it had anything to do with shoddy work but everything to do with the stage the construction was in.

  • AtALost Jan 13, 2014

    Wonder if this is related to the cheap housing labor that can't read English blueprints or all the shortcuts builders take in general?

  • TeresaBee Jan 13, 2014

    The video of the house under construction blowing down has gone viral! Put Raleigh on the map!