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Thunderstorms drop heavy rain, hail across central NC

Posted May 4, 2012
Updated May 6, 2012

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— Thunderstorms popped up across the Triangle during the afternoon hours Saturday, the leading edge of a rain event that washed out evening plans for many across the area.  

Ahead of a cold front that passed through central North Carolina overnight, Saturday afternoon's quick-moving storms produced heavy rain, numerous cloud-to-ground lightning strikes and hail in some spots around the Triangle. 

"Luckily we haven't seen any severe weather with these storms, but it's something we're going to have to watch as we head into the late evening hours," WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth said. 

Counties in the southeastern quadrant of the state were under severe thunderstorm watches until about 8:30 p.m., but much of the area avoided any severe storms. The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Warning for Wake County just before 11 p.m. after more heavy showers moved into the area. The warning lasts until 2 a.m., Wilmoth said. .

"It's nothing to just ignore," she said. "Some of this heavy rain has been falling in the same spots all evening, and that's what caused the warning. These showers will be rolling from north to south across Wake County."

Saturday started out warm and quickly heated up into the mid-80s before the thunderstorms moved in to cool things off. Areas to the north and west of the Triangle that saw rain were 15-20 degrees cooler than spots to the southeast that stayed dry and sunny during the afternoon, Wilmoth said. 

Cloudy conditions and rain showers will linger past dusk Saturday.

Those clouds could inhibit stargazers looking for the so-called "Supermoon," a phenomenon that occurs when the moon's orbit brings it closer to Earth. The moon will appear to be about 15 percent bigger than normal in the sky Saturday night.

Sunday will be mostly dry, but the clouds will stick around, and temperatures will stay much cooler.

"It's going to feel much cooler tomorrow once this front passes through," Wilmoth said. "We'll have more seasonable temperatures in the next seven days."

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  • NCSU84 May 8, 2012

    we had 3.5 inches of rain Sat. We live near Cross Roads in Cary. No hail though, but lots of wind.

  • mesocell May 7, 2012

    At this time, there are three criteria to classify a storm as a severe thunderstorm: 1) Winds in the storm in excess of 58 mph, 2) hail at least one inch in diameter or 3) a tornado, either radar indicated or spotted.

    There are no provisions to label a storm severe for lightning or rainfall rates.

  • simplelogic May 7, 2012

    I can't comprehend why the storm we got Saturday evening wasn't classified as "severe" - we had high winds, hail, lightning so close I went up to the attic to make sure it wasn't on fire, and over 3 inches of rain in an hour...