Strong storms cross NC, killing one

Posted March 23, 2011
Updated March 24, 2011

— Storms spawned strong winds that killed a man and damaged homes across the state and also cast lightning that might have sparked a house fire late Wednesday.

Before hitting the Triangle, the cold front that produced the storms killed a man in Polk County in western North Carolina.

William Allison, 55, was driving near his home Wednesday afternoon when a tree was blown over and fell on his truck, killing him, reports the Hendersonville Times-News.

Thunderstorms broke out in the Triangle when the cold front crossed the region late Wednesday.

A loud blast during a thunderstorm woke Karen Moldt up in her home at 322 Park Meadow Drive in Cary around 11:30 p.m.

"It was just a very loud explosion," Moldt said. "I couldn't tell if a tree had been hit or fallen. That's why I left my bedroom immediately, because it sounded like something had happened on the roof."

Moldt quickly discovered that she was correct – her roof was on fire.

Firefighters responded and contained the blaze to the attic. No one was injured.

"The roof and the third floor are heavily damaged, but the rest of the house is safe, so I feel very fortunate," Moldt said.

Firefighters said lightning could have caused the fire, but the cause remains under investigation.

Lightning likely caused Cary house fire Lightning likely caused Cary house fire

There wasn't a typical storm around, though, when strong winds suddenly whipped in and damaged a home on Cecil Road in the Johnston County town of Archer Lodge.

"We were sitting in the rocking chair with my little 3-year-old," Nicole Ferrell said. "We felt the house just start shaking – no warning. It was just really chaotic."

The home's doors blew open, and the ceiling separated from the living room wall, tearing off the roof. All of the furniture on the back porch blew away, and a trampoline in the yard was thrown against a fence and shattered.

No one was injured, but those at home were shaken, including third-grader Colby Ferrell.

"I'm fine about thunderstorms, but it's tornadoes," Colby said.

The cause of the damage was likely not a tornado, but straight-line winds or downbursts, which can be as strong as a tornado, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. Trees down, home damaged in Johnston County Trees down, home damaged in Johnston County

National Weather Service meteorologists will visit the site Thursday to determine whether a tornado or strong winds hit the area.

Elsewhere, a Wilson County family lost the roof from their mobile home during a strong thunderstorm. Greg Franklin said he and his son were inside their Elm City home when the roof blew off around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Strong winds also toppled a tree onto a house on Harris Point Way in Wake Forest Wednesday night. A large tree fell over in Pullen Park in Raleigh.

The storms caused power outages through the night, but crews restored service to most customers by daylight Thursday.

Moldt summed up the feelings of many residents who got a rude awakening from the storms.

"It's just kind of a strange feeling to know your home isn't safe to live in," she said.


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  • Arapaloosa Mar 25, 2011

    I lived in southwest Florida for 5 years, and I can tell you that while they have more of them, the t-storms here can get just as intense. BTW, the thunder and rain woke me up out of a dead sleep with this storm. It sure sounded severe to me ;)

  • Rebelyell55 Mar 24, 2011

    Pancake, that's a very good questions. While lighting rod came about by Benjamin Franklin to protect homes, it has been of value for along time. However, now with the electronic equipement in ever home, it is believed that the lighting rod, can draw lighting and fry all electronic equipement in the home, which is a very costly thing now of days. I believe, (since this will be monitored) that this would be an excellence question Greg Fishel to address during his weather report. Or even maybe Brian could address it. Anyone, Anyone?

  • Hans Mar 24, 2011

    Another disappointing "event" here in Death Valley. I'm afraid this was the last chance for my croakers down in the pond. I'm gonna miss you little guys.

  • Bring on the 4 Dollar Gas Mar 24, 2011

    Has anyone seen the snow today? It's blowing through the air like a blizzard. So much for that millionth of an inch that didn't do a thing to rid us of the proverbial yellow snow.

    The DOT might want to put out some brine to prepare for the heavy yellow snow that will be blowing in the 30-50 mph winds every day for the next 2 months. If we have any brine left.

  • lma1973 Mar 24, 2011

    We had a line of showers come through out by the airport around 7:30-8:00-the sky got very dark and the wind kicked up but the rain only lasted 15 minutes or so. I was even able to grill out afterwards. The heavy stuff came in at my place around 11-11:30. Still nothing major though.

  • queene01 Mar 24, 2011

    Puggybelle- I live in Broadway and it was VERY windy early evening!! No storms in sight.

  • pancake Mar 24, 2011

    Someone educate me. The 3 story house that had a fire in the attic, don't they have lightning rods to prevent this? I thought a lightning rod would cause the strike to go into the ground. Maybe some damage but, not catastrophic.

  • hckyplyr72 Mar 24, 2011

    In Granville county just north of Falls Lake we had the same thing last night. Around 7:00 a strong wind burst blew our doors open (werent closed all the way cause of our labs) and threw things across the yard and snapped branches with a little rain. The heavy storms came later around 11:00.

  • puggybelle Mar 24, 2011

    We had a heavy storm in Sanford around 12:30 last night, but I was more scared by the wind that came out of nowhere last evening around 6:30. There were no storms anywhere near us - I don't know what that was!

  • seankelly15 Mar 24, 2011

    whiteangel93 - "Go to Florida, and you'll experience a real thunderstorm. The one last night wasn't that bad."

    Oh good grief...