Local News

Humberto's Ghost Lashes Triangle With Winds and Rain

Posted September 14, 2007 4:46 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2007 12:57 a.m. EDT

— Remnants of what had been called Hurricane Humberto made their way through North Carolina Friday evening, bringing with them thunderstorms, wind and tornadoes. Storm damage forced evacuation of a Fuquay-Varina nursing home.

The National Weather Service put Johnston and Harnett counties under sever thunderstorm alerts during the evening, and they posted an advisory about possible urban and small-stream flooding in Wake County. Johnson County was under flash-flood watches into early Saturday. Small-stream flooding advisories were posted for Cumberland, Hoke, Moore, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Wayne counties.

In Fuquay-Varina, firefighters and emergency medical workers evacuated 62 residents from the Brighton Manor Nursing Home, on Sunset Drive, where power went out during the storm a falling tree damaged the building and a backup generator failed.

Firefighters put out a small fire in an electrical box, but determined that the facility was unfit for the elderly people to stay in. No one was hurt in the storm, however.

EMS workers from Wake and Harnett counties arranged for people to be taken to several other nursing homes in the Triangle, and the project drew heavily on Wake County's ambulance capacity.

The weather service said six tornadoes had touched down in the Triangle and one in the central part of the state, and residents reported funnel clouds and widespread damage in Wake, Johnston and Harnett counties. Damage continued to be reported to the National Weather Service from all over the WRAL-TV viewing area.

One of the tornadoes occurred in Lillington, delaying the start of a senior citizens dance at the Circle A Cowboy Club as wind rattled the structure and damaged the roof. The tornado touched down in the South River Road area.

Another report said a tornado touched down at Clayton Middle School on Guy Road at about 6:15 p.m. There were also multiple reports of a funnel clouds on N.C. Highway 42 about six miles west-southwest of Clayton.

Many high school football games were postponed.

Severe weather began moving through the Triangle Friday afternoon. At various times, the weather service issued severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings for numerous counties, including Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Wilson, Nash, Moore and Cumberland.

As of 10 p.m., Progress Energy reported 4,830 customers without power in Wake and Harnett counties, down from 7,600 earlier. Duke Energy, which had about 5,100 customers out in Durham County, had reduced that to approximately 80.

More isolated thunderstorms and tornadoes were still possible late Friday night, WRAL Meteorologist Mike Maze said, and the central part of the state could see anywhere from half an inch to an inch of rainfall before Saturday morning.

A cold front moving in the area Friday was expected to move out by Saturday morning, bringing a beautiful day, Maze said, with highs in the low 80s.

Friday's rain wasn't expected to significantly help the nearly 20-inch rain deficit that has developed across the region as North Carolina suffers through a summer-long drought. It did do some good, though.

Dale Crisp, director of Raleigh's Public Utilities Department, said storm rains had raised the level of the Falls Lake Reservoir about 2 inches, which he called "a good start. Obviously, we hope it continues," he said.

The state's latest drought report shows 98 of the state's 100 counties experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

No more rain is in the near-term forecast for the area.