Published: 2009-07-27 12:59:00
Updated: 2009-07-27 23:19:19
Posted July 27, 2009 12:59 p.m. EDT
Updated July 27, 2009 11:19 p.m. EDT
Most of the eastern half of the state saw heavy rain, high winds and hail Monday, as hot, humid conditions gave way to summer storms, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.
The most severe line of storms started west of U.S. Highway 1 and moved east throughout the afternoon, tracking north from the South Carolina border and across the Tar Heel State.
By 5:30 p.m., it had passed over Wake County, and the Triangle began to dry out. "The Triangle area is in the clear, for now," Fishel said.
"This is not the typical situation where the threat disappears at sunset," he cautioned. "There is a system in the upper atmosphere driving this. It is not purely heat-related.
"The threat of severe storms does diminish as the evening goes on, but there could be one or two isolated severe storms that pop up later," he concluded.
Just before 6 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Sampson County. While no tornadoes were observed on the ground, radar briefly showed rotation just north of Clinton in the area of U.S. Highway 701 and N.C. Highway 43.
"We're seeing a lot of erratic behavior ... on the radar," Fishel said. Wind speeds near Mount Olive were measured at more than 60 mph.
Tornadoes usually form during heavy thunderstorms when warm, moist air collides with cold air. The storms can also produce large hail and strong winds.
As the storms moved north and east into Duplin, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for that area.
Heavy rain, thunder and lightning passed south of Raleigh during the 4 o'clock hour, dumping on communities in southern Wake County and areas further to the south in Lee, Harnett, Johnston and Sampson counties.
"You do not want to be outside when these storms come in," WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said. A gust of wind was measured at 70 mph in Fuquay-Varina, he pointed out.
"Stay indoors at least 20 minutes past when you hear the last clap of thunder," Maze warned.
Johnston County emergency personnel responded to the report of a child struck by lightning in Bentonville. A dispatcher said the child did not appear to be seriously injured.
Wake County authorities said some trees were downed by wind, blocking a portion of Old Stage Road east of Fuquay-Varina.
Areas of Moore and Chatham counties saw heavy rain and hail Monday afternoon. Sanford residents reported heavy rain. In Harnett County, sheriff's deputies said a tree was down and a roof damaged near Jonesboro Road.
The cloudy, hot and humid conditions make widely scattered showers and storms possible each day this week, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
Areas of Franklin County saw damaging winds blow through Sunday, while most of the state stayed dry. On Saturday, hail was reported in Clayton, and radar indicated a tornado over part of Wayne County. No funnel cloud actually touched down, Gardner said.
Daytime highs will reach into the 90s throughout the week, with little cooling during the evening hours. Overnight lows are forecast to stay in the 70s.
A frontal boundary stalled across the center of the state means the weather pattern will hold somewhat steady, even into next weekend, Gardner said.