Weak tornadoes hit Rolesville, Stantonsburg

Posted March 7, 2011

— The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that weak tornadoes hit Rolesville in Wake County and Stantonsburg in Wilson County Sunday evening.

"All of a sudden, two storms kind of collided very quickly here in Rolesville, and a vortex spun up very quickly. It showed up on the radar and in 2 minutes, it’s literally gone off the radar," said Jeff Orrock, with the National Weather Service. "(It) maybe stayed on the ground a minute, but the overall damage path isn’t going to be that long."

A weak tornado whipped up around 6:15 p.m. southeast of Stantonsburg with wind speeds reaching 70 mph, weather service officials said. It blew through about a half mile of woods adjacent to farmland near Peacock Bridge Road. About 70 trees were twisted or snapped, but no other damage or injuries were reported.

Tornado warnings were issued for Edgecombe, Wayne and Wilson counties, but not for Wake.

"It came up (in Wake) very, very quickly," said Darin Figursky, spokesman for the National Weather Service. "From what we were able to diagnose looking back at the radar, had we been able to get out a warning, it still would have come out with essentially no lead time. It was very, very quick that it came up."

Shortly after 5 p.m., a tornado with winds between 70 and 75 mph touched down northeast of downtown Rolesville. It continued in a northeasterly direction for about two miles, weather service officials said. It lifted after crossing Highway 96. Numerous trees were snapped and buildings damaged on Main Street, officials said.

Rolesville police closed Highway 401 at Young Street due to a house fire that ignited when a down power line struck the roof. Resident Cecil Bell, 85, was taken to WakeMed Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and minor burns. He was listed in fair condition Sunday night.

rolesville tornado Rolesville residents clean up tornado damage

"Cecil was lying outside the door on the wheelchair ramp," said Bell's nephew, Ron Brisson. Brisson said Bell is blind.

Steve Taylor lives near Bell and rushed to the home when he saw that it was on fire.

"The fire started and we were trying to get the door open and there was an explosion," Taylor said. "I don't know if it was gas or what."

The fire was contained Sunday night and no one else was injured. The home was not destroyed, authorities said, but the extent of the damage was not disclosed.

A greenhouse, several outbuildings, a church, a house and a car also sustained damage in the area, officials said. 

Storm Damage High winds whip NC Sunday

Storm damage from heavy rains and wind hit Chatham, Wake, Sampson, Franklin, Halifax and Warren counties, in some cases even uprooting trees and downing power lines

A tornado warning for Edgecombe County expired at 7 p.m., weather officials said, because the storm had weakened significantly, but a funnel cloud was reported in the area. Authorities said the storm was capable of producing a tornado and was moving through the county at 40 mph, causing damage near Tarboro.

After the warnings expired, tornado watches were issued for Wilson, Nash, Halifax, Wayne and Edgecombe counties, but were canceled at 8:15 p.m. Authorities said cyclones could bring damaging winds in excess of 58 mph.

Submit your storm photos here.

Damaging winds were reported throughout the Triangle. Progress Energy said that 164 customers in Wake County were without power as of 7 p.m.

Late Sunday morning, a fast-moving storm cell prompted tornado warnings for Johnston, Wayne and Sampson counties.

Radar indicated signs of a tornado in the storm cell that moved from near Clinton along Interstate 95 through eastern Johnston County. The warning lasted from about 11:30 a.m. until shortly after noon. It was not clear if a tornado had touched down or if there was any damage.

A severe thunderstorm was also issued for Halifax County early Saturday afternoon.

The rain and clouds will clear out for the start of the work week Monday.

"It looks like tomorrow that will all be gone," said WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss. "We should see a lot of sun, a few filmy clouds coming in from the west at times and highs in the upper 50s to low 60s."

Fair weather will dominate again on Tuesday, but clouds will return on Wednesday. There's a shot at rain again Thursday.


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  • Shamrock Mar 8, 2011

    " But i will continue to read them and post on here and call them our for being wrong accordingly. " Ima

    It is called seeking attention and nothing more.

  • lma1973 Mar 8, 2011

    I dont think church on Sunday mornings would be a cure for boredom. All i need is tiger blood!

  • warrenhicks1967 Mar 8, 2011

    lma1973 You must have a boring life. Pitiful that all you have time to do is criticize people. Maybe a visit to church on Sunday mornings could cure that.

  • lma1973 Mar 8, 2011

    No, i for one DO NOT LIKE THE FORECAST STORIES BECAUSE THEY ARE WRONG AND CONTAIN MANY FALSEHOODS MOST OF THE TIME. But i will continue to read them and post on here and call them our for being wrong accordingly. Thanks for playing.

  • philpack84 Mar 7, 2011

    I saw half a dozen or more cars pulled over on 540 near six forks during the storm. Am wondering if they witnessed the effects of the tornado passing overhead. It was raining really hard but they were all pulled over at the same place like they all had experienced something. Wonder if Greg can track the storm and see if it passed through that area. I was hit by a powerful gust as I got on 540 at Falls Of The Neuse.

  • warrenhicks1967 Mar 7, 2011

    P.S. And to the ones who joke about DOT brining the roads, I guess you would rather they NOT prepare and let someone hit a guard rail on a bridge and get killed. And it could be a police officer, fireman, or Paramedic responding to save their rear end after they have flipped their car on icy roads.

  • warrenhicks1967 Mar 7, 2011

    I guess I just need to quit reading the comments about WRAL. I happen to think that the folks there are very nice people. It poured saturday night, sunday morning while I was at church, and sunday afternoon here in Oxford. I live in an older wood frame farmhouse and it is not mobile either. I guess one should not make a typing error or they should be crucified. Folks, we all make mistakes, and if this is all you folks have to do, then I feel sorry for you. IF YOU DO NOT LIKE THE WEATHER FORECASTS OR THE ARTICLES ON THE WEB, DO NOT WATCH OR READ THEM. Simple solution. It would be much more enjoyable to read a nice comment every once in a while. And I happen to be thankful and thank the Lord that these tornadoes did not seriously injure or kill someone. That's what should be discussed. Y'all are crazy!

  • shantiboo Mar 7, 2011

    Thank you Ambygirl for sticking up for Rolesville. These people are people I love dearly and go to church with. How dare you people on here say such stupid things. My child was actually next door to Mr. Bell's house and was terrified because the house she was in was shaking. We should all be thankful that it wasn't any worse than it was.

  • rescuefan Mar 7, 2011

    LOL, out of the 17 comments, I can only see 6 which means that the rest of the comments are from multiple identities of the same person I have on ignore. Interesting.

    I am glad nobody was hurt. The wind when that line came through was incredible! I was sure the pine trees across the street were going to come down. Actually one did right around the corner and it landed on someone's house.

  • lma1973 Mar 7, 2011

    It sure is overcast out there. Where is the predicted sun wral??