Storms toss trees, hurl hail, tangle traffic

Posted April 24, 2014
Updated April 26, 2014

Storm spotter Robin Barfield shared this image from the Goldsboro area

— Clouds swirled and hail pounded communities across central and eastern North Carolina Friday afternoon as a cold front and warm front clashed, creating a dangerous weather situation.

Friday's weather was unusual in that storms were scattered across the state instead of progressing in a solid line, according to WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel.

"Any of these storms are candidates to, at the very least, become severe and produce large hail if not produce tornadic activity," he said.

A warm, humid day saw temperatures build through midday into the 80s before storms began popping up.

At 1 p.m., the National Weather Service posted a tornado watch that covered the eastern half of the state. Those conditions, favorable for a tornado to form, continued until just after 8 p.m. The watch also signaled the severe storms to come.

That signal played out quickly in areas in the western edge of the Triangle – Alamance, Orange and Guilford counties – and in the Sandhills where winds whipped at 60 mph and hail piled up on yards and decks within an hour.

Those storms marched north and east, and sparked a round of tornado warnings in the northeast quadrant of the state just after 4 p.m. Trained weather spotters reported a funnel cloud and Ping-Pong-ball-sized hail in Wayne County.

A homeowner on Ida Road in Halifax County saw his roof blown off into nearby woods in the first batch of storms that swept through northeastern North Carolina between 4 and 5 p.m. A tornado was reported in Aventon, and storm spotters from Snow Hill to Goldsboro to Greenville and Wake Forest reported seeing threatening clouds and a lot of lightning. More than 1,000 customers were without power for some part of the afternoon and early evening.

East Carolina University, the City of Greenville and surrounding Pitt County also saw a tornado warning, and the campus urged students to take shelter just before 5 p.m.

As the storms rocked areas to the north, Fayetteville and Cumberland County skies cleared in time for the gates to open at the annual Fayetteville Dogwood Festival.

A second round of storms marched across the Triangle as commuters hit the road, creating delays on busy Friday afternoon roads. "It's really slow going because we have a lot of rain in spots," said WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson.

Traffic lights in Raleigh were out at several major intersections, including Atlantic Avenue and Six Forks Road, the Wake Forest interchange with Interstate 440 and Old Wake Forest and Falls of Neuse roads.

By dusk, the skies were clearing from west to east, and a pleasant weekend was expected to follow.

Saturday and Sunday promise highs in the upper 70s to near 80 degrees, mild evenings and overnight lows hovering in the mid-50s and clear or mostly clear, sunny skies.


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  • Road-wearier Apr 25, 2014

    I like the alliterative headline, folks :)

  • SeaDog Apr 25, 2014

    breaking weather news video! but first, please watch this 15 second advertisement.

  • Obamacare returns again Apr 25, 2014

    Love the headline WRAL!!

    "Warrenton, Halifax getting hammered by storms"


  • Obamacare returns again Apr 25, 2014

    Goodbye was nice knowing you.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" Apr 25, 2014

    Where Nash, Halifax, Warren and Franklin counties meet, and north/northwest of that.
    Continuing in prayer for all in the path of this.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" Apr 25, 2014

    TORNADO WARNING now issued for area northwest of Raleigh - Inez, Hollister, etc. area.
    Duck and cover - PLEASE!!!
    Prayers going up for you all now.

  • tobywilliamson1973 Apr 25, 2014

    We finally got some rain a little while ago. I guess the forecast was right after all. Kudo's team. We were issued a warning for our town, but it only rained and no thunder for a minute or two during that warning. We got a good shower with the last clouds though. Stay safe!

  • Thomas Hannan Apr 25, 2014
    user avatar

    TOBYWILLIAMSON1973 - " It's the mixture that the DOT sprays on the road during winter to help with traction for the vehicles."

    It changes the freeze point for water which should prevent freezing on the roadway.

  • simplelogic Apr 25, 2014

    "Thank you Toby. At least someone has some common sense around here."

    Do you mean the kind of "common sense" that sees no rain falling at 12:30 and concludes that there will be no rain that day, even though the forecast called for rain later in the afternoon and evening? That kind of "common sense"?

  • evadbbat Apr 25, 2014

    Got that right.