Intense storms leave little damage

A low pressure system moving toward the Southeast brought tornado watches and severe thunderstorm warnings to more than 20 counties in central North Carolina, including Wake, Durham, Johnston, Orange and Cumberland, for most of the day Saturday.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A low pressure system moving toward the Southeast brought the threat of severe weather, including isolated tornadoes, to more than 20 counties in central North Carolina Saturday, but conditions never deteriorated beyond heavy rain, lightning, hail showers and some straight-line winds.

"The radar looked a little scary at times this afternoon as these very strong individual cells (looked like) they might have taken on some rotational characteristics, but they just never really did. We’re thankful for that," said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel.

Although much of central North Carolina was under tornado watches and severe thunderstorm warnings throughout the afternoon and evening hours, reports of storm-related damage were few and far between. 

Wind toppled a tree at Wagstaff and Carver Road in Person County shortly before 8 p.m., a funnel cloud reportedly formed in Duplin County around 6:40 p.m., and lightning struck a house on Swift Creek Road in Johnston County shortly after 6:30 p.m., Fishel said.

By 10 p.m., the threat of severe weather diminished significantly as storm cells weakened and headed east. 

A large, upper-level low pressure system was rotating off to the west of North Carolina Friday night, said WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth. When it combined with warm temperatures, it spawned heavy rain that lasted from Friday night through Saturday afternoon in many areas.

High temperatures that climbed in the mid-to-upper 70s Saturday afternoon heated the atmosphere, which helped fuel thunderstorms that did develop.

Wilmoth said the chance for showers and thunderstorms would taper off overnight.

"We'll probably start off tomorrow dry, but we could have a couple isolated showers, and then by tomorrow afternoon, we'll start to see some more storms pop up," Wilmoth said.

Those showers and thunderstorms are expected to continue Sunday night and into Monday morning. High temperatures Sunday will be a bit cooler, topping out in the low 70s across much of the area.

Temperatures will climb back into the mid-70s Monday as partly cloudy skies return to the forecast, but by Tuesday, a cold front will bring a brief chill to the area with a high of 62. Mid to upper 70s will return later in the week.

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Derek Medlin, Web Editor
Bridget Whelan, Web Editor

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