November notorious for N.C. tornadoes

Posted November 15, 2008

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— The tornadoes that raked eastern North Carolina early Saturday was the latest in a series of November storms to cause death and destruction in the state.

Two years ago Sunday, a tornado with winds of up to 200 mph ripped through the Columbus County town of Riegelwood, killing eight people and causing an estimated $500,000 in damage. Part of a system that swept across the South, the tornado devastated a mobile home park about 20 miles west of Wilmington as people were getting up to head to work and school.

Five tornadoes cut a swath across the state on Nov. 22-23, 1992, roughly along Interstate 85 and into northeastern North Carolina.

The first tornado hit in Cleveland County near Belwood, followed by another twister that tracked across northeastern Catawba County into Iredell County. The final tornado in this small family of tornadoes touched down in southeastern Yadkin County, then raced northeast through northwestern Forsyth County and into central Stokes County. Although there were 15 injuries associated with these tornadoes, there were no fatalities.

That same night, an F3 tornado touched down near the Interstate 40/Interstate 85 split in Orange County and headed northeast into a Hillsborough subdivision. The tornado stayed on the ground only 5½ miles, but it killed two people and injured 10 others.

The final round of severe weather began in eastern Harnett County, where an F3 tornado touched down between Angier and Coats  and moved northeast for 160 miles before lifting. Damage stretched from Wilson Mills through Wilson and Tarboro and into Martin, Bertie, Chowan, Perquimans and Pasquotank counties. Twenty-one students were injured in an Elizabeth City school bus.

On Nov. 28, 1988, another overnight tornado killed four people and injured 157 and caused an estimated $77 million in damage as it ripped through north Raleigh subdivisions and shopping centers.

The twister touched down in Umstead State Park and reached a maximum intensity of F4 in northwest Raleigh, where two people were killed and 105 injured 105. The tornado remained on the ground for 84 miles as it raced northeast at 50 mph through northeastern Wake, southern Franklin, northwestern Nash, central Halifax, Northampton, and northern Hertford counties. Another two people were killed in northwestern Nash County when the tornado destroyed a mobile home.


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