Windy storms topple trees, power lines

Posted May 9, 2009 1:44 p.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2009 5:51 p.m. EDT

— Crews worked to end power outages after storms swept through central North Carolina Saturday evening, knocking down trees and power lines with high winds.

Lights were out at Capital Boulevard and Trawick Road in northeast Raleigh, and a fallen power pole blocked an IHOP restaurant on Capital for a while Sunday morning. Last night, a falling tree hit power lines, pulling a utility pole onto traffic lights, scattering them on the ground.

Shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday, Duke Energy had 650 customers without power, including 232 in Durham County and 35 in Orange County. Progress Energy had restored power to customers across the WRAL viewing area.

"Heat, with some humidity, helped to drive some strong to severe thunderstorms in a cluster that moved from the southwestern Piedmont right across the Triangle area in into the central coastal plain," WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said.

The National Weather Service received reports of wind gusts up to 70 mph, 13 reports of nickel-sized hail and 26 reports of wind damage.

Look at viewers' photos of storm damage.

A pickup truck driver traveling on Jenkins Road in Wake Forest had to swerve to try to avoid crashing into a tree that suddenly fell onto the road. His pickup still hit the fallen tree, but the driver wasn't injured.

A huge, old tree split in several places and landed on a vacant home on Method Road in Raleigh, collapsing part of the front porch.

Ken and Pauline Stockdale got a scare when a big tree snapped in half and then fell onto their house on Cedar Lane, near Falls Lake in Raleigh. Part of the tree pierced the roof and crashed into the attic, but no one was hurt.

"I was downstairs on my computer, and I just heard this big boom," Ken Stockdale said. "I came upstairs, and there was the tree lying on top of the house."

Pauline Stockdale said she and her husband had been debating whether to cut the tree down.

"I wanted the tree to stay, which was the problem. He wanted to cut it down because he was afraid it was going to someday fall on the house," she said. "First thing he said was, 'Well, I told you so.'"

Trees also came crashing down on two houses on Beddingfield Drive in Knightdale. The owners were home Saturday night when the storm hit.

“All of a sudden (I heard) 'ba-boom,'” homeowner Harold "Smitty" Smith said.

A big tree fell into the side of the home, leaving a huge hole in the garage and the ceiling of the upstairs bonus room.

“My daughter sits in that bonus room a lot watching TV ... she could have been severely hurt,” homeowner Linda Smith said.

No one was injured, but the family spent Sunday cleaning up.

"This is not the way to celebrate Mother's Day. I canceled all my plans, and we are together as a family, so that's all that counts," Linda Smith said.