The watches were issued shortly before 5 p.m. and will remain in effect until midnight.
Forecasts call for a cold front to move across the state Thursday night, bringing the threat of thunderstorms.
"We could be looking at a widespread severe weather outbreak," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. "As it stands, it's probably going to be a scattered one, but that's not to minimize the threat."
The front also will usher in cooler temperatures. Highs Friday will be around 70 degrees, compared with Thursday's high of 83.
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