15 NC counties and 2 VA counties are under alert, including Johnston, Nash, Halifax, Edgecombe, and Mecklenburg, VA counties. Details
Published: 2017-04-05 06:04:00
Updated: 2017-04-05 23:07:03
Posted April 5
Raleigh, N.C. — The threat of strong winds, hail and isolated tornadoes Thursday morning has prompted several school districts to delay classes.
WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said that, despite earlier predictions that showed the severe weather beginning at about 2 a.m., it could be sunrise before storms make their way into the Triangle. The storms could produce damaging winds, hail, possible localized flooding and an isolated tornado.
"We're really not looking at anything scary here until about 5 or 6 in the morning," Fishel said. "There is some uncertainty about how strong it will be when it gets here, but the potential is too strong to ignore."
Because of the weather risks during the early-morning hours, when school buses would be on the road, schools in Johnston, Harnett, Wayne and Wilson counties announced they would operate on a two-hour delay Thursday. Edgecombe County schools announced they would operate on a three-hour delay Thursday.
Fishel said the threat of severe weather should subside by about 10 a.m.
A tornado watch was issued for Bladen, Columbus and Robeson counties through 8 p.m. Wednesday, and much of the area is under a wind advisory through Friday.
"I would not be surprised if we did have tornado warnings later on this evening and overnight," WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said, adding that damaging winds and golf-ball-sized hail could come with the storms.
Fishel suggested that people set up alerts on their phone in the event a tornado moves through overnight.
"You may need to be awake and take action, at least on an isolated basis, later tonight," he said.
The strongest storms will hit farther south in Georgia and Alabama, where many areas are under a high risk for severe weather. Most of North Carolina, though, is under a slight risk for severe weather, which is the second level of a five-level risk system.
Winds on Thursday could gust up to 45 mph and Maze said the strong winds bring an increased change for power outages across the region.
"The rest of the day should be uneventful other than the fact that the wind is going to howl all day long," Fishel said.