Local News

Severe Thunderstorms Advance Through Area

Posted August 20, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Some pretty rough weather rolled through the WRAL-TV5 viewing area Wednesday afternoon. It was especially bad north of the Triangle where parts of Vance County got hammered early on by storms.

Later, the focus shifted south, when severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for southeastern Chatham and southwestern Wake counties. The area along US Highway 1, between Apex and Holly Springs saw a great deal of storm activity.

The main danger from these storms appeared to be lightning and damaging winds. There was no indication of tornadic activity.

The storm hit Vance County mid-afternoon Wednesday catching many people completely off-guard. Highway 39, a major thoroughfare in the area, was closed for most of the afternoon because of a downed tree across the road. The road connects Interstate-85 and US 1, and is extremely busy during rush hours.

Carolina Power & Light crews worked along the road trying to restore power. They were partially successful by 5 p.m. Police say there are trees down, some on power lines, in many areas of Henderson and that some school buses were delayed until some roads could be cleared.

Two trees came down at Myrtle Short's house. One in front of the house, blocking the road, and another in the back yard. Short said the storm took her completely by surprise.

Henderson Police Lt. Sam Pearson said all hands were busy throughout the afternoon.

CP&L said more than 6,000 customers were without power, mainly in the area around downtown Henderson. There were also scattered outages in Granville, Vance and Warren counties. A spokesperson for the utility said there was no word on when all power would be restored.

Officials say they believe a micro-burst might have been responsible for the concentrated area of damage.

CP&L crews from the Triangle moved into the area to assist.

WRAL-TV5'sGreg Fishelsaid conditions would favor tornado development throughout the night in the viewing area.

Photographer:Lori Foushee