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Storms sweep through southern counties

Storms dropping golf-ball-sized hail and spawning lightning strikes damaged a church's steeple and downed trees late Thursday.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Storms dropping golf-ball-sized hail and spawning lightning strikes damaged a church's steeple and downed trees late Thursday.

The steeple off Cornerstone Baptist Church at 5059 U.S. Highway 701 South in Four Oaks was damaged. Winds also knocked down trees along U.S. 701 and tore the door off a barn.

At least five trees fell at a home in the 4600 block of U.S. 701, and some crashed into cars. The owner estimated the fallen trees caused as much as $15,000 worth of a damage. 

Storms also dumped golf-ball-sized hail on Fayetteville, and a wind gust of 59 mph was recorded at the Fayetteville Regional Airport. The National Weather Service reported more than 600 lightning strikes in the area.

“I went to the window and the hail is coming down and the rain is so hard, I couldn't see anything and as I turned away from the window, the whole house just shook,” Barbara Koch said.

Koch’s Fayetteville home was damaged by heavy wind, hail and rain.

Along historic Hay Street, the wind gave the trees a thrashing, shaking the leaves right off their branches.

For Jeannine Carter, just getting to work at Beef O Brady's was like navigating an obstacle course.

“The roads were quite full of water, down by the Airborne Museum it was completely covered, both sides of the road,” she said.

Fayetteville police took calls about a funnel cloud being spotted near Hope Mills. Officially, no tornado touched down.

Storm damage prompted the closure of Skibo Road from Cliffdale Road to Chason Ridge Road. Power outages tied up traffic along Bragg Boulevard.

Damage, including downed trees, was also reported around Cross Creek Mall, between the All-American Freeway and Skibo and Morganton roads.

That storm later tracked into Sampson, Duplin and Onslow counties.

At the height of the storm, Progress Energy reported scattered outages affecting more than 2,100 customers. The largest outage hit 1,142 customers around Swann in Lee County and Pineview in Harnett County.

Another severe thunderstorm dropped hail as it moved over Goldsboro and southern Wayne County. Severe weather also swung over Hoke, Montgomery, Moore and Harnett counties.

The short-term risk for severe weather in the Triangle is "non-existent," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said Thursday evening.

However, scattered showers and thunderstorms could develop overnight in areas south of U.S. Highway 64.

"The main threat is damaging wind," WRAL Meteorologist Mike Maze said, but large hail is also possible with stronger storms.

After Thursday's action, "we have a nice drop in humidity and cooler temperatures coming Friday," Maze said.

Friday's high will be around 88 degrees, and temperatures are predicted to stay in the mid 80s through the weekend. Dry conditions are expected to persist into early next week.

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Bryan Mims, Reporter
Ken Smith, Reporter
Lori Pickel, Photographer
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Greg Clark, Photographer
Anne Johnson, Web Editor
Minnie Bridgers, Web Editor

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