Hail, heavy rain bring damage reports
Posted May 20, 2008 12:20 a.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2008 10:57 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Thunder, strong winds, heavy rain and hail threw punches at Triangle commuters during Tuesday's evening rush, then another storm system raised tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings in Cumberland County.
National Weather Service spotters – volunteers trained in weather reporting – reported hail ranging from penny to golf-ball-size, and photos sent to WRAL.com showed yards, driveways and decks inundated.
Wind damage and downed trees were reported in wake of the storms. Progress Energy reported nearly 7,000 customers without power in Johnston County. Duke Power reported about 2,000 Durham County customers without power.
A spokeswoman for Raleigh Durham International Airport said there was heavy rain and lightning at the airport, but no major flight delays occurred.
Emergency officials said about a half-dozen homes, one business and sheriff's patrol cars were damaged by falling trees in Pittsboro.
"When I first pulled into the driveway, my first words was 'God is good,' because it could have been so much worse,” Teresa Farrell said.
A 70-year-old red oak tree crashed down during the storm. The tree grazed the side of Farrell’s house.
A few more feet and "it would have demolished that whole end of the house,” Farrell added.
A huge tree came down on Jackie Green’s house. It destroyed an empty mobile home in his yard. The force knocked over a gas tank and ripped the power lines out of the house.
"No one is dead. No one is injured. So I’m happy,” Green said.
The storm also uprooted an enormous tree behind the sheriff's office, crushing at least five vehicles and a storage building.
"Luckily, the old building that it went through is scheduled to be torn down in a couple of years. We used it for storage, basically,” Emergency Operations Director Tony Tucker said.
As of 8 p.m., 2,100 customers were without electricity in the Pittsboro. Utility workers hoped to have power restored by midnight.
During the afternoon, numerous trees were reported down on N.C. Highway 39 in Vance County.
A tree fell on a power line, sending the live wire across N.C. Highway 210 in Smithfield. Crews blocked the road while the line was removed. Nearly 7,000 customers were without power during the storm in Johnston County.
Earlier, heavy storms moved across the North Carolina-Virginia border counties, The 24-hour rain totals included 0.53 inches at Danville, Va., and 0.71 inches at South Hill, Va. In the same period, Raleigh collected 0.43 inches, and Fayetteville had 0.47 inches between 7 and 8 p.m.in an hour Tuesday evening.
A third of an inch of rain fell on RDU between 6 and 7 p.m., the National Weather Service reported.
A tornado warning was issued for southern Cumberland County just after 7 p.m. when National Weather Service radar spotted a tornado over Hope Mills, 11 miles south of Fayetteville, moving east at 41 mph.
A tree fell on train tracks at Brisson Road and Lake Upchurch Road, just south of Hope Mills. Emergency communication had to stop a train that was scheduled to come down those tracks Tuesday night.
In Moore County, several fire departments said they had been called to respond to a report of a tornado near Pinebluff just after 6 p.m.
Doppler radar detected tornado conditions in Holly Springs, but no damage was reported.
Forecast to clear
After sundown Tuesday, storms were expected to fade and were falling into the 60s.
Wednesday will be partly sunny with a 20 percent chance of rain. Highs should be in the mid-70s with winds from the west at 5 to 10 mph.
“Right now, it is (looking) dry and pleasant through the holiday,” meteorologist Mike Maze said in looking toward Memorial Day on Monday. A warming trend will put temperatures into the 80s by week's end.
"All in all, the weekend's not looking bad at all," Maze said, predicting that the holiday would be warm and dry.