Tornado watches cover eight counties in central NC

Posted April 27, 2011 10:11 a.m. EDT
Updated April 27, 2011 11:54 p.m. EDT

— Tornado watches were in effect in several counties Wednesday night, after scattered, pop-up storms fueled by moisture showered on central North Carolina throughout the afternoon. More widespread severe weather is possible Thursday.

Alamance, Franklin, Person, Vance, Granville, Warren, Durham and Orange counties were under a tornado watch until 2 a.m. Thursday.

Storm cells were popping up to the west Wednesday evening that could potentially strengthen overnight, said WRAL chief meteorologist Greg Fishel.

"The atmosphere is primed right now for severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes," Fishel said.

He said the tornado threat is greatest around daybreak Thursday.

The threat comes from a storm system that has killed at least 25 people in Arkansas and Mississippi

and is heading for North Carolina.

"We do think the system will be losing its tornado potential as it moves eastward," Fishel said, adding that there is a still a chance of isolated tornadoes overnight and Thursday morning.

Thursday's storms are expected to produce straight-line winds and large hail, which can cause significant damage to homes, especially those already battered by last week's tornadoes, Fishel said.

After the cold front passes by, a stretch of calmer weather follows to finish out the week.

"Over the weekend, we can relax a bit – less humid, very pleasant temperature-wise, upper 70s Friday and Saturday and mid 80s Sunday, sunny," Gardner said. "Just nice and quiet."