18 NC counties are under alert, including Johnston, Halifax, and Northampton counties. Details
Published: 2009-05-07 05:13:00
Updated: 2009-05-08 00:31:36
Posted May 7, 2009 5:13 a.m. EDT
Updated May 8, 2009 12:31 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — After a relatively calm day, severe weather began to develop in southeast North Carolina Thursday evening.
A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for southeastern counties including, Cumberland, Edgecombe Johnston and Wilson, until 1 a.m.
WRAL chief meteorologist Greg Fishel said the storms were most likely to produce hail and damaging straight-line winds.
Hail was reported in Johnston, Wayne, Sampson, Lenior and Pitt counties. Possible funnel clouds were reported in Craven and Lenior counties.
The weather started to develop in the late afternoon and lasted into the evening as temperatures heated up into the low 80s.
The threat of thunderstorms should end by early Friday, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.
A meandering cold front will keep the chances of rain showers and thunderstorms alive in North Carolina for the next few days.
"It doesn't look like our weather's going to quiet down really anytime soon. We just continue with this very same weather patten," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
Some sunshine poked through in the early afternoon after morning showers in the Triangle and heavier rain across eastern counties. But cumulus clouds were also developing – a sign that storms could also develop later in the day.
"On a day like this, we're looking at cumulus clouds growing and growing and growing, and eventually, you get enough activity in there that you get a thunderstorm," Gardner said. "We still have plenty of moisture that's streaming into the area, and that's going to fuel our instability."
The frontal boundary along which these storms are developing will hang around North Carolina and Virginia, creating the conditions for severe weather through the weekend.
"(The front) is going to wander a little bit over the next couple days, but it stays close enough to us that we've got the potential for showers and thunderstorms," Gardner said.
The front will migrate north some on Friday, lessening but not erasing the possibility for rain and storms. It will come closer again on Saturday and finally pass through the state overnight.
Behind it, North Carolina can look for cooler and drier weather next week.
Mobile home residents are especially vulnerable to tornadoes. If a tornado warning has been issued, mobile home residents should get to a pre-arranged shelter immediately.
At schools, the safest part of the building is in the hallway with no windows. Office workers are urged to get under something sturdy, like a desk or table.
Drivers who see a tornado forming or approaching should leave the car and take shelter in a ditch or some other low-lying area.
For those at home, the safest place is in a basement. If there is not one available, they should go into a hallway or closet.
Tuesday tornadoes confirmed
The National Weather Service determined that an EF-2 tornado, packing winds between 125 and 130 mph, touched down at 4:50 p.m. on Tuesday on Rock Ridge School Road in Wilson County. It remained on the ground for about 2 miles.
Around 5:30 p.m., an EF-1 tornado, with winds between 70 and 95 mph, hit near N.C. Highways 42 and 96 in Johnston County. It traveled for 6 miles and then touched down again in a weaker form in Nash County.