Severe weather pounds state

Posted November 14, 2008 6:00 a.m. EST
Updated November 15, 2008 5:34 a.m. EST

— A strong storm cell moved through central North Carolina early Saturday, causing tornado warnings, severe weather and one death.

The last tornado warning expired at 5:15 a.m., while a tornado watch remained in effect for some central North Carolina counties until 8 a.m.

One death was reported in Wilson County as a result of the storm. The death occurred after a house was destroyed at 3850 London Church Road in Elm City. An unknown number of injuries were reported in Johnston County.

WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel described the storm as a “super cell” that maintained its intensity for about 80 miles. Around 5 a.m., after about two hours of tornado warnings and severe weather, the cell appeared to be weakening.

In Johnston, a law enforcement officer reported seeing a tornado at 2:48 a.m. about 4 miles east-southeast of Benson.

A possible tornado produced damage to homes in Lucama, Wilson and Elm City. Damage was also reported in Kenly.

Previous tornado warnings were issued for Bertie, Edgecombe, Halifax, Hertford, Johnston, Nash, Northampton Sampson, Johnston, Wilson and Wayne counties.

Damage to homes and barns was reported in Sampson, Johnston and Wilson counties.

The safest place to be during a tornado is on the lowest floor of the building in a small room such as a closet or bathroom or in an interior hallway.

Some parts of the area will see 3 to 4 inches of rain before the skies start to clear late Saturday. The weekend will start mostly cloudy and windy, with showers and storms likely. Highs will be in the upper 60s to low 70s.

After rain passes through the state, a cold front will move into the area by Saturday afternoon. "You can call next week a preview of winter," WRAL Meteorologist Mike Maze said, noting that by Wednesday the daytime highs will top out in the mid-40s. "We could see a low temperature of 25 degrees Wednesday morning."

"The big sun is back Sunday, but with cold," Maze said. The cold front will be a precursor to a pattern change in the atmosphere. Cold surge after cold surge is expected to hit the area next week.

Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said she expects temperatures to be well below normal Tuesday through Friday of next week.