Weather service confirms tornado in Zebulon

Posted April 26, 2010 12:05 p.m. EDT
Updated April 26, 2010 11:54 p.m. EDT

— The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that a tornado touched down in Wake and Franklin counties Sunday evening, toppling trees and causing minor damage.

The tornado, with a maximum wind speed of 70 mph, initially touched down at 8:05 p.m., near Zebulon, the weather service said, causing minor damage to a fast-food restaurant and other businesses in a local shopping center.

There were no reports of injuries, and damage was minimal with the exception of a few homes in the area.

The storm then moved eastward for 3.5 miles before lifting off the ground east of N.C. Highway 39 in Franklin County. The weather service said it was unclear still if the tornado stayed on the ground for the entire trail because of difficulties assessing areas along the track.

A second tornado, believed to have damaged a storage shed and car port in Nash County, was actually straight-line winds, the weather service said.

Meanwhile Monday, Zebulon residents got their first clear look at storm damage.

A large tree fell in front of the Zebulon police station, police Chief Tim Hayworth said. A tree that was more than a century old fell in front of the town's municipal building.

Residents said the winds appeared to come out of nowhere.

Mike Ennis said he saw what appeared to a funnel cloud forming. It never touched down and went over his home, he said.

"It was pretty intense," Andrew Taylor said. "As soon as we come across our living room to our kitchen, the kitchen door swings open and debris – leaves and twigs are blowing."

Minor damage was reported in Spring Hope, where winds ripped apart a garage and flattened a storage building.

The chance for showers and storms continues into the early part of the workweek, Gardner said.

"We do have a front that's back to our west right now, that's going to come sweeping through the area this afternoon," she said. "Along with it, we can't rule out some scattered thunderstorms, and our air mass is still unstable, so we can't rule out some severe weather this evening."