Strong storms rip through central North Carolina
RALEIGH -- A swift moving line of storms ripped through central North Carolina Thursday evening bringing powerful winds and heavy rain.
The clash between the cooler air and Thursday's baking heat was responsible for the power of the storms which toppled trees and caused scattered power outages across the area.
Friday, Duke Energy Progress reported tens of thousands of customers in the ABC11 viewing area were still without power.
Wake County says Banks Road, Adams and Rand Road elementary schools will be closed Friday because of power outages, and more schools may be affected.
The DMV License office on Avent Ferry Road in Raleigh was closed Friday morning because of a power outage.
Power officials said they were working as fast as possible to restore electricity to affected areas. Law enforcement officers were out directing traffic at intersections where lights were out.
The storms produced straight-line wind gusts of over 50 miles per hour and some reports of hail. The National Weather Service issued several watches and warnings across the state during the height of the storms.
Two people in Wilkes County died as the line of thunderstorms swept across North Carolina.
Authorities said a volunteer firefighter died Thursday afternoon when he was electrocuted after responding to a small fire when a tree fell on power lines. A 77-year-old man was also killed when a large tree fell on him in his yard. Officials said Maurice Kilby's wife found him and called for help but he had died by the time rescuers arrived.
In the Triangle, a 70-foot tall tree toppled onto a home in the 1100-block of Tarbert Drive in Cary crushing the roof over a bedroom and porch area. The homeowner, Howard Amy, told ABC11 that no one was injured, but he said the house was not livable in its current state. He's just thankful no one was hurt.
Normally, I'm back there after work," said Amy. "Everybody's safe -- my daughter, my son. We just thank God that everybody's safe. This stuff here can be replaced."
Amy and his family are staying at a hotel until repairs can be made to his home.
In Raleigh, it's not just downed trees, but also darkened traffic lights that could be a real concern for the Friday morning commute.
In an instant, the sky opened up unleashing a monsoon-like rain packing high winds sending people in downtown Raleigh scrambling for safety.
When it ended, trees were on top of cars, and firefighters responded to people in the dark.
At Nofo restaurant workers began the clean-up after the storm pummeled the dining deck and the neighborhood's power supply.
"One of the transformers in our neighborhood went down and it was arching power across, catching fire to shrubs and grass in our neighborhood," said Nofo manager Anne Downey.
Several trees snapped along Glenwood Avenue as well.
"I was just sitting in my bedroom and I heard a very, very loud crash," said Raleigh resident Mary Gillogely.
At first, Gillogely thought lightning struck when a tree hit her home, but it was a five second one-two-punch that left her with a damaged roof and no electricity.
"For the most part probably just hunker down and put some candles on," said Gillogely.
Police remind drivers that non-functioning traffic lights should be treated as four-way stop signs.
In Durham, crews shut down West Club Boulevard near Ninth Street after high winds snapped several trees causing large limbs to land in the road. One of those branches even coming to rest on someone's pick-up truck. Trees were also down near Southpoint Mall. A tree also crashed down on a house on Colorado Avenue, near Garrett Road.
Fayetteville power crews worked well into the evening, cutting up downed trees, and repairing ripped and torn power lines.
Emergency officials say trees big and small were down all across the city. Crews say the storm left a trail of damage as it tore through the Sandhills.
In Sanford, damage was widespread, and there were lots of calls about trees in the road. Sanford police blocked several roads, keeping motorist from driving across downed or low hanging electric lines.
In Clayton, a gazebo at the Women's Club was destroyed when a large tree toppled over on top of it during the height of the storm.
In Moore County, Southern Pines police warned residents that numerous trees were down along with electrical lines. They asked residents not to travel if possible while crews worked to clean up the mess.
A 75-year-old tree was snapped in half by the storm along Guess Road in Hurdle Mills, Person County. Many of the tree's limbs ended up resting on the home's porch.
Many flights leaving RDU International Airport were either delayed or canceled Thursday evening. Several flights to New York were delayed, and flights to the Washington D.C. area were canceled.
Meanwhile, Friday will be much cooler, along with a good deal of sunshine.
Saturday will be comfortably warm with sunshine as well. Then Sunday, it begins to feel more humid again with some sunshine. Another cool front should bring another round of thunderstorms on Monday or perhaps Tuesday.
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