Latest: Storms wind down as sun sets

Posted February 24, 2016 5:40 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 2:04 p.m. EDT


7:10 p.m.: Chatham County spokeswoman Debra Henzey says trees fell on a couple of homes off N.C. Highway 902 in the southwest part of the county. Trees were down across the county, and fire departments are working to remove trees from roads. There was some flooding in Siler City.

7 p.m.: More than 16,000 customers remain without power across the Triangle, with more than 6,400 of those in Wake County and another 3,600 in Warren County.

6:50 p.m.: Much of the region remains under a tornado watch until 11:15 p.m. The watch covers Wake, Harnett, Johnston, Wayne and Wilson counties. Cumberland, Franklin, Nash, Edgecombe and Halifax counties are under a tornado watch until 11 p.m.

6:45 p.m.: The tornado warning has been canceled for Johnston County but remains in effect in Wayne and Wilson counties.

6:40 p.m.: Reporter Adam Owens says a mother and three children escaped harm when a large tree fell on their home, on Dellwood Drive in Durham. The family heeded warnings and had taken shelter in the basement, he said.

6:30 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Johnston, Wayne and Wilson counties until 7:15 p.m.

6:23 p.m.: As tornado warnings expire across the region, the National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Wake, Durham and Franklin counties until 7:45 p.m. and separate warnings for Vance and Warren counties and Edgecombe and Wilson counties and Wayne County until 7:15 p.m.

6:20 p.m.: Reporter Bryan Mims says a roof was torn off a mobile home in the Seven Springs community in Wayne County. No injuries were reported. The frame of a retail building under construction in the area was splintered on the ground.

6:10 p.m.: Reporter Arielle Clay says the roof is off one home near Oxford, and a tree has fallen on another home nearby. A woman who has lived in the second home for 50-some years rode out the storm in a bathtub, according to her son. Reporter Ken Smith says a farmer in the area lost two silos, a tractor trailer and another piece of farm equipment, but none of his 150 head of cattle was hurt.

6:05 p.m.: WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth said there are reports of straight-line winds blowing cars into a ditch near Fayetteville Regional Airport.

5:55 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Johnston and Wayne counties until about 6:40 p.m.

5:50 p.m.: About 11,000 customers are without power in Wake County. Another 2,000 each in Durham and Johnston counties.

5:42 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for the downtown Raleigh area. It's part of a larger warning covering parts of Wake, Franklin, Vance and Warren counties until 6:40 p.m.

5:40 p.m.: WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said there are reports of two silos knocked down and several overturned cars near Oxford.

5:33 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Wake and Durham counties until 6:15 p.m.

5:30 p.m.: A tornado is confirmed on the ground about 10 miles southeast of Fayetteville. Stedman and Falcon are in the path of the storm.

5:25 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for northern Wake and southern Franklin counties until 5:50 p.m., a second tornado warning for Cumberland, Sampson and Harnett counties until 6 p.m. and a third warning for Vance and Warren counties until 5:45 p.m.

5:22 p.m.: From Kittrell:

5:20 p.m.: Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins says one house is destroyed and two to three others have serious damage in the Huntsboro community near Oxford. Numerous trees are down, and scattered power outages are reported. He said it's unclear if a tornado or straight-line winds caused the damage.

5:07 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Cumberland, Hoke, Sampson and Lee counties until 5:30 p.m. and a separate warning for Granville, Franklin, Vance and Warren counties until about 5:50 p.m.

5 p.m.: Tornado warnings are expiring across the Triangle, but severe thunderstorm warnings remain in effect for Wake, Durham, Franklin, Vance and Warren counties.

4:52 p.m.: A tornado and softball-size hail have been reported near Townsville, near Kerr Lake in Vance County. The tornado reportedly touched down near N.C. Highway 39.

4:48 p.m.: The Durham County Sheriff's Office says downed trees are blocking the 900 block and 1300 block of Torredge Road, the 5700 block of Earl Road and the 900 Block of Snow Hill Road in the northern part of the county. No injuries have been reported.

4:40 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Wake, Durham, Harnett and Franklin counties until about 6 p.m.

4:33 p.m.: A tornado has been confirmed north of Interstate 85 in Granville County, moving toward the northeast and into Vance County.

4:30 p.m.: Meteorologist Nate Johnson said the area around Oxford and Stovall is likely getting battered by hail, based on the weather radar being blocked.

4:21 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Wake, Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties until 5 p.m. because of a storm cell north of Southern Pines moving northeast at 70 mph.

4:20 p.m.: The tornado warning has been canceled for Durham and Person counties but is still in effect in Granville County.

4:10 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for parts of Durham, Granville, Person and Vance counties until 5 p.m. A separate warning was issued for other parts of Durham County and parts of Orange County until 5 p.m.

4 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Person County and northwest Granville County until 4:45 p.m.

3:57 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued another tornado warning for parts of Chatham, Lee and Moore counties until 4:30 p.m.

3:53 p.m.: The tornado siren has been activated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and students, faculty and staff have been asked to seek shelter.

3:48 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Hoke County and parts of Moore, Richmond and Scotland counties until 4:30 p.m.

3:45 p.m.: The tornado warning has been canceled in Chatham County, but a severe thunderstorm warning remains in effect there, as well as in Durham, Orange, Granville and Person counties until 4:45 p.m.

3:35 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for portions of Orange and Durham counties until 4:15 p.m. The warning has been canceled in Lee and Moore counties but also remains in effect for Chatham County.

3:30 p.m.: Reporter Arielle Clay reports that wind is picking up in western Durham and Orange counties, but there is no rain and the roads are dry. Viewers report high winds and trees down in Chatham County.

3:20 p.m.: Crabtree Valley Mall officials report that power is out in a portion of the mall, but nobody has been asked to leave. Duke Energy officials said a tree fell on a power line at Glen Eden Road, and crews are trying to repair the damage.

3:10 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning until about 4 p.m. for Chatham County, Lee County and northern Moore County. WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said a line of thunderstorms was moving quickly through western Chatham County, and hail was falling in Siler City.

2 p.m.: A home in southeastern Wayne County is the first confirmed casualty of Wednesday's tornado outbreak, according to WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth. Witnesses said the roof was torn off the home on Sanderson Road at Seven Springs Road.

1:25 p.m.: Rain showers and thunderstorms are moving through parts of the Triangle, although none of them have included severe weather.

"These storms have included gusty winds and very heavy rain in spots," WRAL's Elizabeth Gardner said. "Expect those showers to continue into the afternoon."

By mid-afternoon, a squall line of storms could bring better chances of severe weather to the Triangle.

1:05 p.m. The storm that WRAL meteorologists have been tracking has prompted a new National Weather Service tornado warning for Wayne County until 1:30 p.m.

The storm could pass to the south and east of Goldsboro and north and west of Kinston, Greg Fishel said.

"This storm appears to be intensifying," he said.

12:48 p.m.: Greg Fishel says the signatures on radar are indicating a very strong storm possible of producing a tornado in Sampson County.

"This is as impressive a couplet as we've seen all morning long with this storm," he said. "This storm has intensified over time. This cell is moving very, very quickly."

The storm was moving northwest of Concord, and it could impact Warsaw and Kenansville.

12:38 p.m. A tornado warning has been issued for Sampson County until 1 p.m, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm was moving rapidly to the northeast and could impact the communities or Harrels and Delway.

12:30 p.m.: WRAL's Greg Fishel says continued warming across the Triangle could help storms fire up while a squall line continues to push toward the area.

"Some of these storms have intensified fairly quickly, and they will be worth watching before this large squall line arrives," he said.

12:20 p.m.: Parts of the area could see a lull in precipitation during the early afternoon, although a line of storms is forming in the Triad and making its way toward the east.

"This line of storms could arrive in our area between 2:30 and 3 p.m., and it's a very dangerous line," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

12:10 p.m.: North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is urging residents to closely monitor weather forecasts and follow direction from emergency officials.

"We all have seen how quickly storms like this can strike and that is why it is so important for everyone to take thunderstorm and tornado warnings seriously," McCrory said in a statement. "I cannot stress enough: follow directions from your local officials. Stay alert and don't get hurt."

12:05 p.m.: Bladen County is under another tornado warning until 12:45 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

The storm was near Whiteville at 12:05 p.m. and was moving northeast. It could move east of Elizabethtown, and it could also impact Cio, Elkton, Bluefield and Clarks Crossorads.

11:45 a.m.: WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel says the current line of storms are a precursor to the more severe weather headed toward central North Carolina later this afternoon.

"This is going to be a rapidly changing situation, so you need to be on alert throughout the afternoon," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

11:35 a.m.: Due to the threat of severe weather, East Carolina University classes will end at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

11:30 a.m.: A tornado warning issued for Cumberland County has expired, although a storm that produced the warnings in Bladen and Robeson counties continues to move into the northwestern portions of Sampson County.

11:27 a.m.: Randy Beeman, the emergency services director for Cumberland County, said firefighters did observe a tornado in the Greys Creek area of the county. The National Weather Service has not confirmed those reports.

11:18: All of central and eastern North Carolina is now under a tornado watch until 7 p.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The watch means conditions for tornadoes are favorable.

"It is covering the entire viewing area at this point," WRAL's Nate Johnson said. "It includes coastal counties and all of the Triangle."

11:09 a.m.: Fort Bragg Schools will begin releasing students at noon Wednesday, officials said.

11:05 a.m.: WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel says the storm responsible for the tornado warning in Cumberland County could reach areas such as Elease, Lnea, Grays Creek, Cedar Creek, Judson and Heritage Heights between 11:07 a.m. and 11:20 a.m.

"The worst of it looks like it is going south and east of Fayetteville proper," he said. "This storm is moving northeast at a rapid clip."

10:55 a.m.: A tornado warning is also in effect for Cumberland County until 11:45 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

"The timing of these storms showing up is about what we expected," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "We will also see a squall line develop through the late morning and early afternoon hours."

People under a warning should take shelter inside a sturdy building or the lowest level of a home. Avoid windows, and abandon mobile homes and cars in favor of sturdier shelter.

10:50 a.m.: A tornado warning has been issued for Bladen and Robeson counties until 11:30 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

The storm was located near Lumberton at 10:48 a.m. and moving northeast at 45 mph. Locations that could be affected include Lumberton, St. Pauls, Smiths, White Oak, Howellsville, Parkton and other areas.

Forecast: Two bands of severe storms bearing down on North Carolina Wednesday are threatening to produce tornadoes and large hail and prompted some schools, including those in Wake, Durham, Cumberland and Johnston counties, to send students home early.

The strong storms moving up from the South will bring sustained winds of 20-25 mph, placing the eastern part of the state under a wind advisory–separate from the tornado threat–from 9am to midnight. The threat of tornadoes, though, is likely to cause a tornado watch later in the morning.

"Our threat for tornadoes is definitely one of the higher ones that I've seen in my years here," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner. The region is on a level four out of five for risk of severe weather, Gardner added, which is the highest risk in at least five years.

The chance of severe weather ramps up as early as 9 a.m. as warmer air begins to come down and mix with the cooler air. Temperatures began in the high 40s but will jump to a high of 71 degrees.

Tornado safety tips

"The one thing that may save us for a little while is the very cool and stable air that we have right here at the surface," Gardner said. "All of our instability is up a little higher in the atmosphere right now."

Isolated thunderstorms began popping up around 5 a.m. in counties southwest of Raleigh, but the later the storms get into the morning, the higher the chance of severe weather will be.

"We are not under a tornado watch yet, but certainly we have a good chance of seeing one of those a little later in the morning," Gardner said.

Doppler - Central NC

Aside from the storm threat, the area is also under a wind advisory beginning at 9 a.m. Sustained winds could reach 20 to 25 mph and gusts could be between 35 and 45 mph. As rain begins, gusty winds could bring down tree limbs and trees, Gardner said.

The storms barreled across the South on Tuesday, killing at least three people and affecting 7 million more.