Weather

Possible tornadoes, storms hammer eastern NC

Posted August 29, 2011 3:53 p.m. EDT
Updated August 30, 2011 9:00 a.m. EDT

— Two possible tornadoes and severe thunderstorms pummeled central and eastern North Carolina Monday evening, a devastating blow to communities still recovering from Hurricane Irene.

The National Weather Service radar indicated a tornado that moved through the Sharpsburg, Rocky Mount and Pinetops communities in Edgecombe County Monday evening.

WRAL Meteorologist Mike Maze said he can't confirm whether a tornado touched ground, but said the radar indicated cloud rotation, a lot of cloud-to-ground lightning, heavy rain and large hail in Edgecombe County.

Earlier Monday, radar also indicated a tornado in rural Tyrrell County near Kilkenny.

The entire town of Pinetops lost power in the evening storms, affecting about 600 households, police said. Power lost during Hurricane Irene in that area had just been restored throughout Sunday night and Monday morning.

Most people got power back quickly, officials said.

Flash flooding impacted several areas of Rocky Mount, especially along Kingston and Sunset avenues. Cars stuck in high water had to be pushed out, officials said. The city also got pelted with nickel-sized hail.

A house fire behind the Harris Teeter on Sunset Avenue is believed to be a storm-related, but authorities are still investigating its cause.

In nearby Nash County, officials said storms whipped the area with blinding rain that appeared to be moving sideways, but there was no indication of funnel clouds forming.

Chatham County also got blasted by powerful winds, rain and hail. A large tree crashed through a Pittsboro home on Johnny Burke Road, where the owners, Mark and Carol Hewitt, run a pottery business out of a cabin on the property.

"The little cabin we were in, it felt like it lifted up, and then we came back down," Carol Hewitt said. "There's a huge tree, and the roots are actually under that cabin, so when that tree came up and landed on its side, it probably did lift the cabin."

In Fuquay-Varina, lightning struck the roof of a house at 911 Minerva Drive, damaging its bonus room and garage. There was smoke damage on the second floor and water damage on the first. A family was inside the home at the time, but got out safely. Two firefighters, however, were hospitalized with minor injuries.

The storm downed a utility pole and tree along Creedmoor Road in Raleigh. The road was closed between Lynn and Jeffrey's Grove School roads during the Tuesday morning rush hour while Progress Energy crews made repairs. One northbound lane remained closed around 9 a.m.

Raleigh got a record rainfall of 1.36 inches from Monday's storms.