'Amazing storm' felt like a hurricane

Posted January 24, 2010
Updated January 26, 2010

— Overnight Sunday, the line of heavy rain and strong, gusty winds howled over central North Carolina.

"This has been a pretty amazing storm for us coming through," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "The wind was whipping ... It really felt like a hurricane when it was blowing so hard and the rain was coming down so fast."

The weather system, which had stronger storms with wind gusts up to 60 mph, prompted a series of tornado and flash flood watches across the region.

On average, between 1 and 2 inches of rain fell across the region. By 6 a.m., 1.89 inches had fallen in Chapel Hill, 1.88 inches in Oxford, 0.96 inches in Raleigh, and approximately three-quarters of an inch in Rocky Mount, Goldsboro and Fayetteville.

"The bigger threat with these storms may be flooding. Some of these storms have been putting down rain at a rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour," WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said.

Flash flooding was reported in Raleigh on Hillsborough Street, in Durham on Roxboro Road and in Pittsboro on Woody Store Road.

Rain slicked roads may have contributed to a single-vehicle wreck on Interstate 40 West at mile marker 306 near Garner. Nayantara Steinbacher, 23, of Carolina Beach, was driving around 4:30 a.m. when her car hydroplaned and went down an embankment, troopers said.  Steinbacher and two passengers were expected to be OK.

"We’ve gotten a few reports of trees down due to strong winds, both within some of the stronger storms, as well as ahead of the entire line," Johnson said.

A tree was reported down at Lyon Station and Green roads near Creedmoor. In Chapel Hill, a tree fell at Stage Coach Road and N.C. Highway 751. Downed trees were also spotted in the Aberdeen and Southern Pines areas.

Elsewhere in North Carolina, the storms brought heavy rain, flooding and some wind damage.

The Charlotte Fire Department reported at least a half-dozen water rescues involving people trapped by flooding sparked by the storms late Sunday. Fire Department spokesman Robert Brisley reported several homes were evacuated by flooding.

Roads were closed in a number of counties because of flooding.

Rowan-Salisbury schools closed, while nearby Cabarrus County schools operated on a two-hour delay as roads were closed by flooding.

Duke Energy reported Monday morning about 1,900 customers were without electric service. Duke reported more than 300 customers without service in Davie County.

Flash flood watches and warnings and tornado watches were in effect at various times. There were no immediate reports of serious damage.


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  • time4real Jan 25, 2010

    no tornados, nothing but a little rain and the trash cans geting their usual blowing on down the road! typical January weather in NC, 70 and rain!

  • wildcat Jan 25, 2010

    It was certainly a "white-knuckle" drive!

    Should have stayed in for safety.

  • pappy1 Jan 25, 2010

    Drove from Sanford to Charlotte to Atlanta, Sunday evening and night. It was certainly a "white-knuckle" drive!

  • Diabolical Jan 25, 2010

    No kidding! I wonder if a tornado touched at all.

  • hollylama Jan 25, 2010

    I missed all of it and even had my window open.

  • QTC Jan 25, 2010

    It was still short of the 74 MPH needed to be a Category One hurricane, but I'll agree that there were some strong winds.

    Thank you for not referring to any of the affected areas as a "war zone". That term is constantly mis-applied to weather-damage situations.

    In a "war zone", as any combat veteran knows, you are dealing with far more than debris. Try: Unexploded ordinance, snipers, and booby traps. Again, thanks for not downplaying the seriousness of what our troops face. I hope other news organizations will follow your good example.