Spotty, severe storms roll through central NC

Posted May 1, 2012

— Spotty but severe thunderstorms brought on by a heat wave Tuesday unleashed large hail, a "phenomenal amount" of cloud-to-ground lightning and even tornado warnings on several counties in central North Carolina.

Tornado warnings were issued for Wake, Durham, Orange and Granville counties shortly after 6 p.m. The alerts lasted less than an hour, but WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said radar was showing strong signs of rotation and possible tornadoes forming.

"There was never a report of a tornado touching down – just an impressive-looking cell that moved through those counties," he said.

The afternoon heat and humidity stirred up the storm activity, which could pop up again around daybreak Wednesday, when a storm cell forming over Ohio moves southeast into the viewing area.

Maze said some areas could see rain and wind, but those daybreak storms are not expected to be severe.

Southerly winds from the Gulf of Mexico brought on the wave of heat and humidity, which could take nearly a week to crest and recede. Highs hit the upper 80s in the Triangle Tuesday.

"Start thinking summer,"  WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "Get ready for a long, hot, summer streak through Sunday."

The mercury will creep close to 90 degrees Wednesday and will likely climb a couple degrees above that mark on Friday and Saturday. Temperatures will reach close to record highs on those days.

Such a heat wave is a little bit earlier than usual, but it's historically not that unusual for North Carolina, WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss explains. It's hit 90 degrees as early as March 12, 1990 and March 17, 1945.

A gradual cooldown starts on Sunday when temperatures return to the mid 80s, and the next work week will kick off with temperatures in the mid 70s.

WRAL Weather team WRAL WeatherCenter Forecast


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  • superflames May 2, 2012

    there were some scary looking clouds that night by Northern High School in Durham County. I saw some rotation going on and it wasn't a friendly sight. I have heard some word of mouth reports of car windows getting blown out by hail.

  • Rollin Like PDoobie May 1, 2012

    uhavenoclue, you should swap the u for an I! Pray you never have to experience the SUDDEN, life changing phenomena known as a tornado. WRAL, please delete my unfinished comment and post this.

  • Rollin Like PDoobie May 1, 2012

    Uhavenoclue, with that attitude you wouldn't stand a chance of survival in a tornado! I only pray there is an adult in your home that does actually have a clue.

  • Rollin Like PDoobie May 1, 2012

    uhavenoclue, you should swap the u for an I! Pray you never have to experience the SUDDEN, life changing

  • Uhavenoclu May 1, 2012

    Besides let it rain,and get windy,so I can open my car doors and it can bly the junk out and I can get a free car wash,since I can't afford the car wash with the gas so high.

  • Uhavenoclu May 1, 2012

    "Possibility"....sorry I don't rely on Possibilities I rely on stepping outside and looking around...Wind Calm...Ground,Dry,Air ..warm...A ok here.

  • ebarker9 May 1, 2012

    "Wave of warmth brings tornado warnings"

    Warnings or watches?

  • jblake1932 May 1, 2012

    Yes, getting rain NOW!! Wral meterologists rock!! Gardner was on point today, folks!!

  • mmtlash May 1, 2012

    "Calling for rain in the "Northern part of the state". Lets see how that developes!" -jblake 1932

    hmmmm according to the radar there is now a line of storms just south of the VA border....looks like the prediction was pretty accurate today!

  • sammyg May 1, 2012

    Are they going to be CRASHING storms????