Violent Christmas storms sweep South, loom in NC

Posted December 25, 2012

— A storm system that brought severe weather from Texas to Georgia on Christmas Day is expected to stir up strong to severe thunderstorms in eastern and southern North Carolina on Wednesday, said WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze. 

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center has placed areas to the east and south of a line from Monroe to Raleigh to Nags Head under a moderate risk of severe storms Wednesday. That means there is a 45 percent chance of tornadoes or thunderstorms with 75 mph winds or hail 2 inches in diameter within 25 miles of any place included in the moderate risk.

The storm could also bring winds up to 60 mph to the southwest corner of the state and snow to the mountains.

The forecast in the Triangle calls for blustery winds, some thunderstorms and the possibility of up to 1.5 inches of rain before the front passes in late afternoon. There is a slight to moderate risk that isolated tornadoes and damaging wind gusts could strike in the viewing area, but WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said forecasters will be monitoring conditions overnight to see how the severe weather threat develops. 

"The potential is pretty good for damaging winds and tornadoes, which are what we call long-track, which means they stay on the ground for a long time,"
 Maze said.

Behind the storm system, sunshine returns and dry weather will prevail, but daytime highs will barely reach 50 degrees and the overnight lows will dip below freezing to finish the week.

Wednesday's weather shake-up follows a Christmas gift of partly sunny skies, highs in the low 60s and no rain. 

In many parts of the nation, however, conditions were anything but cheery.

A Christmas Day twister outbreak left damage across the Deep South while holiday travelers in the nation's much colder midsection battled sometimes treacherous driving conditions from freezing rain and blizzard conditions.

Conditions were volatile throughout Tuesday afternoon and into the night with tornado warnings in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The storms were blamed for two deaths, several injuries, and left homes from Louisiana to Alabama damaged.

In Mobile, Ala., a tornado or high winds damaged homes and knocked down power lines and large tree limbs in an area just west of downtown around nightfall.

The National Weather Service has not confirmed a tornado touchdown, but said it's received reports of a large funnel cloud headed toward downtown Mobile.


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