Afternoon storms 'pack a big punch,' cause delays at RDU

A line of thunderstorms moved into Orange, Durham, Chatham, Franklin, Nash and Edgecombe counties late Friday afternoon, bringing heavy downpours and an "immense amount" of cloud-to-ground lightning, said WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Temperatures in the mid-90s, moisture in the atmosphere and an approaching cold front kicked off strong to severe thunderstorms in central North Carolina Friday afternoon.

The storms "packed a big punch" with cloud-to-ground lightning, heavy rainfall and gusty winds, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

A line of thunderstorms crawled across the state throughout the day Friday, dumping very heavy rain on the Triad before making its way into the Triangle by late afternoon.

In and around Greensboro, flash floods reportedly left as much as 6 inches of water on some roadways, Maze said.

No flooding was reported in the Triangle area, but storms did cause wind damage to homes, power lines and other structures.

At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, severe weather up and down the East Coast was creating a headache for airlines, who had to cancel, delay, divert and reroute a very high volume of flights, airport spokesman Andrew Sawyer said.

Sawyer said he couldn't estimate how many flights were affected, but added that RDU was being slammed by diverted flights that couldn't land elsewhere.

Kim King, whose daughter's flight from New York was delayed three hours, said she wasn't bothered by a prolonged wait at the airport.

"I think if they delayed it, it's probably a good thing, if they felt like they were being cautious," she said. "We're just thankful that they make the right decisions."

Severe weather in the Triangle had moved east by 10 p.m., leaving light rain in its wake, but storms were hitting Greenville as the weather system continued along its path to the coast.

The chance for showers and thunderstorms is expected to "come back to life" Saturday, starting as early as 11 a.m., Maze said.

Hazy sunshine dominated during the first half of the day Friday as high temperatures climbed into the 90s for the third consecutive day. 

High temperatures will top out near 90 degrees Saturday and Sunday before falling back into the mid-80s to start the work week.

"Overnight lows could make it back into the upper 50s early next week, so we've got a little break from the heat on the way," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.


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