Wind topples trees, causes power outages

Winds gusted up to 50 mph Wednesday afternoon, but had slowed down by late evening. Thursday will be sunny with highs in the 40s and winds 15 to 20 mph.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Strong, cold winds swept through the Triangle on Wednesday causing downed trees and knocking out power in some areas.

Winds gusted up to 50 mph Wednesday afternoon, but had slowed down by late evening, WRAL chief meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

Thursday will be sunny with highs in the 40s and winds 15 to 20 mph.

"The winds will not be as strong Thursday as they were on Wednesday," WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

Trees topple, power outages reported

Trees fell throughout the area Wednesday, causing some power outages and traffic delays.

Strong winds caused a large tree to fall in the 400 block of Canal Street in Durham around 2:40 p.m., according to Durham Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael. Some intersections were blocked while crews cleared the tree.

A downed tree on Interstate 40 East at Airport Boulevard caused back-ups around noon.

A massive oak tree fell on a home on Harding Street in Raleigh around 1:30 p.m. Julia Bunn, 82, said she was watching TV when the tree crashed into her home.

"It scared me so bad," Bunn said. "I heard a fuss, like a rumble, and all of a sudden it was a big crash."

Bunn and her husband planted the oak tree shortly after they moved into the home more than 60 years ago.

"I planted that tree. I was stupid," she joked.

Bunn was not injured. She plans to stay with family members in Raleigh until her home can be repaired.

The wind lifted the roof off of a commercial building in downtown Roanoke Rapids around 2 p.m., dispatchers said.

Earlier Wednesday, strong winds caused an awning to fall in downtown Raleigh. On Cooke Street, trees landed on power lines. Nearby on Edenton Street another tree fell, taking out power lines and damaging a deck and other property.

Downed trees were also reported on N.C. Highway 50 at Rand Road, south of Garner, and N.C. Highway 902 between Alex Cockman Road and U.S. Highway 4, west of Pittsboro.

Authorities in Robeson County said a tree fell on a car along Tarheel Road east of Saint Pauls around 6 a.m. trapping two people inside. They were being treated for serious injuries.

Near downtown Fayetteville, wind gusts shattered the lighted sign of Deno's Pizza Palace. The sign will cost about $6,000 to replace, authorities said.

Trees were also reported down in Halifax County. One tree briefly blocked Interstate 95.

Progress Energy said that about 17,900 customers across the state were without power at 9 p.m. Duke Energy had over 20,000 customers in the Carolinas without power.

A tree hit a power line in Hope Mills around 6 a.m., and briefly disrupted power for about 2,000 customers of Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation. About 100 Lumbee customers lost power when a line went down along Galatia Church Road in west Fayetteville Wednesday afternoon.

South River Electric Cooperative, based in Dunn, reported only intermittent outages in Cumberland, Harnett, Johnston and Sampson counties.

The winds Wednesday were so strong some planes at Raleigh-Durham International Airport had to make more than one pass at the runway before landing.

"It started to get a little turbulent," traveler Joe Trask said of his plane’s landing at RDU. "It was a bit scary.”

So turbulent, Trask says his pilot did not make the first landing attempt.

"The plane started to shake a little bit, and he had to pull up and he got back on the intercom and said the cross-winds are too strong,” Trask recalled.

Flood warnings issued
Several counties are also under flood warnings, including Edgecombe, Robeson and Wayne counties. The Neuse, Cape Fear and Tar rivers were among those that are experiencing high water levels.

In Dare County, significant flooding was reported along N.C. Highway 12 from Oregon Inlet to Rodanthe and from Avon to Rodanthe North, the sheriff's office said.

Ferry routes suspended
The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division suspended operations at Hatteras, Ocracoke, Swan Quarter, Cedar Island and Pamlico River on Wednesday due to extremely high winds.

Operations could be suspended through Thursday morning, depending on the severity of the wind speeds. Other ferry routes could be affected as well.

Some flights delayed, canceled due to Mid-Atlantic snow storm

A snow storm in the Mid-Atlantic region caused trouble for some airline passengers on Wednesday.

At RDU, passengers arriving or flying to Chicago, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia were seeing delays or cancellations, RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.

Traveler Karen Quartaro was looking for a flight Wednesday to Rochester, New York.

"There are a lot of cancellations,” she said.

Quartaro found a way to get to her destination but will have to fly south to Atlanta first. She says it beats not flying at all.

"I am sure there are a lot of people who are not getting where they want to go,” Quartaro said.

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Bruce Mildwurf, Reporter
Bryan Mims, Reporter
Adam Owens, Reporter
Jamie Munden, Photographer
Robert Meikle, Photographer
Greg Hutchinson, Photographer
Kelly Hinchcliffe, Web Editor
Kathy Hanrahan, Web Editor

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