Published: 2012-02-24 07:19:00
Updated: 2012-02-25 07:19:29
Posted February 24, 2012
Updated February 25, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — The threat of severe weather Friday afternoon saw representatives of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, state Highway Patrol and Emergency Management working together to track storms, monitor roads and respond to storm reports in a more coordinated manner than ever before.
The $53 million State Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh brings all those agencies under one roof to keep drivers informed and safe and traffic moving smoothly. About 520 employees work at the 237,000-square-foot facility off District Drive.
When the weather system that threatened all day arrived in the Triangle just in time for the Friday evening rush hour, the center was at high alert, issuing alerts to the media for television, radio and web broadcast and to drivers via email and Twitter.
The storm system brought heavy rain across the state and winds clocked in at more than 40 mph at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Flights were briefly grounded at RDU while the storm passed.
As the line of storms moved west to east, the National Weather Service began to lift the storm watches and warnings that dominated the day.
By 6 p.m., no tornadoes had been reported in North Carolina, and that threat appeared to be lessening. "The history of this front is that it has been producing severe thunderstorm warnings," WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.
Duplin County authorities reported several trees down in the Pink Hill community. A woman was injured when her home on Kitty Noecker Road was damaged, but her injuries were minor. Heavy storms roll through Triangle
Early rain drenches Cumberland County
A first weather system brought heavy rain and high winds to an area from Jacksonville and Wilmington to South Carolina throughout the afternoon. Fayetteville saw heavy rains beginning around noon.
Just the threat of severe weather was enough for leaders of the Cumberland County school system to order schools to close one hour early Friday afternoon. Chatham County schools canceled after-school extracurricular activities with the exception of high school playoff games.
The Triangle was under a "moderate risk" for tornadoes Friday according to the National Weather Service. Tornadoes usually form during heavy thunderstorms when warm, moist air collides with cold air. The storms can also produce large hail and strong winds.
Thanks to a soupy air mass and high temperatures that climbed into 70s by mid-afternoon, storms had plenty of fuel to work with as the cold front moved in.
Sunny, cool weekend follows front
After the front clears, sunshine and much cooler temperatures highlight the weekend. "There is nothing behind the line," Maze said. "Once it passes, things should settle down." WRAL WeatherCenter Forecast
Saturday's high should top out in the low 50s, more than 15 degrees colder than Friday's early morning temperatures in the mid-60s. Winds out of the northwest will also facilitate the cool down.
Low temperatures Sunday morning could dip back into the upper 20s for some spots, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
"We'll get another shot of winter once the front passes through Friday," she said. "The air mass will feel completely different."
Partly cloudy conditions and temperatures in the upper 50s and low 60s will return Monday.