Weather

Line of storms slowly approaches Triangle

Posted November 30, 2010 8:49 a.m. EST
Updated December 1, 2010 4:16 a.m. EST

— A cold front sliding slowly into North Carolina could bring squalls and high winds overnight, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said. 

A tornado watch was in effect for a swath of counties to the north and west Raleigh, but the threat of a tornado outbreak was minimal, Maze said. 

A tornado watch is an indication that conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. People in those areas should stay indoors and monitor weather conditions closely for the duration of the watch.

Conditions feel familiar to survivors of 1988 outbreak

The conditions Tuesday night were similar to those in the Triangle 22 years ago, when a tornado tore north from Raleigh through Wake, Franklin, Nash, Halifax, Northampton and Hertford counties claiming four lives.

"North Carolina leads the nation in the percentage of tornado deaths due to nighttime tornadoes," said WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson.

That twister touched down without warning just after 1 a.m. on Nov. 28, 1988, near Umstead State Park and Ebenezer Church Road. It totaled a shopping center and damaged or destroyed nearly 2,500 homes and over 75 businesses over a swath of more than 80 miles.

David and Cheryl Pridgen lost their house but were unhurt. They hunkered down in a bedroom with their twin daughters. 

Doug and Luana Winner were sleeping when the storm struck. 

"I woke up, felt something, heard the trees crack," he recalled. They grabbed their children as the ceiling above them began to fall.

Documents they had stored in their attic were found as far away as Virginia Beach.

"We were just extraordinarily lucky that nobody, none of the four of us, were hurt," Luanna Winner said.

After the front, cooler weather on the way

On Tuesday, the high temperature of 72 degrees in Raleigh was about 12 degrees higher than the average for this time of year. The weather was expected to stay warm and humid through the night before the front has fulling passed by Thursday.

The temperatures will slowly get cooler as the week continues with highs leading into the weekend at or around the 50-degree mark. Lows will be in the upper 20s and lower 30s.