Posted March 30, 2010 9:27 a.m. EDT
An intense low pressure area, frontal boundary and upper level trough brought bands and clusters of heavy showers and some intense thunderstorms to North Carolina later Sunday and Sunday night, with the ingredients that support severe storms peaking over the Piedmont sections of our state and our neighbors just to the south. The map you see here is from the Storm Prediction Center, and each of the red marks in SC, NC, and southern VA represents a preliminary tornado report, plotted along with a few reports of hail greater than one inch in diameter (green) and non-tornadic wind damage (blue).
Most of the tornadoes were more or less along the I-85 corridor from around the Charlotte region up through the Triad, and then a couple of reports in southeastern Person county in the general vicinity of Rougemont. Despite impressive radar signatures that led to tornado warnings for these areas, we reported them as "possible" tornadoes on Monday, since they occurred at night and had to be verified by inspection later. Those verifications took place yesterday in the form of survey teams sent out by the Raleigh National Weather Service office. In addition to the Person County storm, they surveyed damage areas in Guilford and Davidson counties to our west.
In our viewing area, the survey confirmed a tornado in southeastern Person county around midnight, with the twister covering a path roughly 4 miles in length and 75 yards wide. The intensity of damage varied along the path, but peaked at EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with maximum winds estimated at 100 mph.
In Davidson and Guilford counties, the same thunderstorm appears to have produced multiple touchdowns of the same or a series of tornadoes, having path widths of 50 to 300 yards, and producing damage leading to intensity estimates of EF2 in Davidson County and briefly EF3 in Guilford, with a peak wind speed around 138 mph.
Another principle characteristic of the overall system was production of locally heavy downpours, and significant widespread rainfall. Much of North Carolina received between 1 and 2 inches as it passed, with a few places receiving less and a few spots up in the 3-4 inch range.
With low pressure at the surface and aloft now pulling slowly away from the region, it appears we'll head into an extended stretch of dry and very warm weather for the rest of the week and probably through the Easter weekend, with highs in the 85-90 degree range possible on Friday. The record high at RDU for that date, April 2nd, is 90 degrees set back in 1967.