Triangle unscathed by severe weather

Posted April 10, 2009 10:18 a.m. EDT
Updated April 11, 2009 7:50 a.m. EDT

— Much of North Carolina dodged a weather bullet overnight Friday and early Saturday as heavy rains blamed for the deaths of five people moved through the state.

Forecasters said the line of storms, blamed for those deaths in western Arkansas and central Tennessee, were capable of producing damaging lightning, hail and winds.

In the western part of the state, there were multiple reports of hail, and there was an isolated report of a tornado in Washington, N.C. But there were no problems reported in the Triangle.

The threat of severe weather Saturday is unlikely, but conditions will remain variably cloudy and windy with highs in the low- to mid-70s. A stray shower is possible.

A cold front will move through the area in the late afternoon, pushing temperatures down to the lower 40s by nightfall.

Easter Sunday will dawn noticeably cooler, with highs in the low 60s, making jackets a necessity for Easter sunrise services. Sunrise is forecast at 6:45 a.m.

Sunday and Monday will be mild, with highs in the upper 50s and low 60s and overnight lows in the 40s. A chance for showers returns late Monday.

On Friday, a storm cell prompted tornado watches and warnings in the western part of the state and severe thunderstorm warnings in the WRAL-TV viewing area.

There were reports of golf-ball size hail in Stanly and Randolph counties.

The National Weather Service in Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., also reported hail the size of nickels, pennies or quarters in Cabarrus and Cleveland counties and near downtown Charlotte in Mecklenburg County.

Lightning sparked a small brush fire off of Southerland Road in the Wilsons Mills community, Johnston County dispatchers said. There were no injuries.

Before making its way through North Carolina, the storm system spawned a tornado that touched down in Mena, Ark., Friday. It is to blame for three deaths there.

Residents said their town looks like a battle zone, so much so that the National Guard is helping to clean up in the aftermath of the powerful storm.

The same system killed a mother and her 9-week-old baby in Murfreesboro, Tenn. More than 30 people were injured when a tornado touched down, cutting a path of damage a quarter-mile wide. The town's courthouse, city hall and a school were all damaged.