Storms cause delays at RDU; lightning strikes cause damage in Cary, Fayetteville

Posted July 23

— Sunday was the hottest day of the year so far in Raleigh, but some relief from the heat is on the way after heavy rain moved through the region.

The high temperature at Raleigh-Durham International Airport climbed to 102 degrees Sunday, which is just three degrees shy of the all-time record high for the date, set in 1952.

Excessive Heat Warnings for dozens of North Carolina counties, including Wake, Johnston, Chatham and Cumberland counties expired at 7 p.m. Sunday.

North Carolina Radar

Strong storms began moving into the Triangle early Sunday evening, prompting several severe thunderstorm warnings to be issued across the region.

According to the National Weather Service, rain fell at a rate of about 3 inches per hour during the strongest storms. In Fayetteville, more than 2 inches of rain fell in a six hour period, setting a new record.

While the severe weather had dissipated late Sunday night, WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth said rain would remain in the area for several more hours overnight.

The storms had a significant effect on the heat index across the Triangle, with temperatures feeling like they were in the lower 70s in Raleigh by Sunday night.

"The one good thing about these storms is the rain really cooling down these temperatures," Wilmoth said.

By Monday, temperatures will be more normal — still hot but out of the triple digits.

Storms have domino effect at RDU

According to RDU, all ramps were closed for several hours Sunday night while lightning was within 3 miles of the airport. As a result, several arriving and departing flights were delayed because ground crews were forced to remain inside for their own safety.

Airport officials said that several flights that were able to land were stuck on the tarmac until lightning moved out of the area. Those waiting to pick up friends and family members at the airport said passengers were stuck on planes for hours.

"They aren't sure why they're still sitting there, but they know there are like seven or eight planes in front of them and they're not even moving," said Chasney Foster, who was waiting at the airport to pick up a family member who was stuck on the tarmac.

In addition, several flight were diverted from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to RDU because of storms, resulting in hundreds of extra passengers arriving at RDU on Sunday evening, airport officials said.

Airport officials said the ramps reopened at about 7:30 p.m., but said it would take several hours for normal airport operation to resume. The last of the delayed flights was expected to land at RDU at about 12:45 a.m.

Wind, lightning cause damage to homes

In Cary, a house on Northlands Drive caught fire when it was struck by lightning just after 7 p.m. Authorities said the fire was contained to the attic and a portion of the second floor. No residents were injured, but authorities were assessing the home Sunday night to ensure the it was safe to stay in.

A Fayetteville home was also damaged by a lightning strike Sunday night. Authorities said lightning struck the home on Santiato Drive just after 8 p.m. The home's attic was damaged by the fire while other areas of the house sustained water damage. Four adults, one child and a dog were displaced as a result of the fire.

In Franklin County, there were several reports of damage from the storms, particularly downed trees near U.S. Highway 401 and N.C. Highway 98. Several trees in Wake County were also knocked down as a result of strong winds.

In Wilson, storms caused a tree to fall onto a house on Hornes Church Road and crash into the living room where an 83-year-old woman was sitting, according to the Silver Lake Fire Department. The woman was able to escape with only minor scrapes and was displaced from the home.


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  • Arthur Raleigh Jul 24, 1:05 a.m.
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    Safety first

  • Mike Blackwell Jul 23, 9:54 p.m.
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    Form Image

  • Mike Blackwell Jul 23, 3:32 p.m.
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    If must be an anomaly but according to my thermometer and Weather Underground it is 107 around Yates Mills / Lake Wheeler area.