Local/State

Tornadoes, severe storms rip through central North Carolina

Friday, February 21, 2014

A powerful line of thunderstorms swept across central North Carolina Friday, bringing strong wind gusts and even tornado warnings for some counties.

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The National Weather Service in Wilmington reports two higher end EF-0 tornadoes hit St Pauls. One building lost a roof and debris was blocking a road in the area. They also reported toppled trees and downed power lines in the area. The Red Cross reports it is responding to storm damage along Elrod Road in Elrod, and the Crossbow Road area of St. Pauls.

ABC11's Nicole Carr reports several rooftops were damaged, a shed was destroyed and a travel trailer was flipped onto its side in the area of Third and Townsend Street in St. Pauls.

» Click here for a Google map of the area. «

"I was just putting my hands over my head," said 11-year-old Aaron McKenzie.

"One of the church members heard it and said it sounded like a train," said St. Paul resident Darlene Wilkes.

Meteorologists say the tornadoes packed winds of up to 85 miles per hour.

The National Weather Service has also confirmed that an EF-1 tornado also touched down in Wayne County.

The twister damaged an office trailer in Grantham. Nearby trees were uprooted.

No injuries were reported.

Wind gusts in the 50-60 mile per hour range were recorded in the Triangle.

In Fayetteville, part of Cross Creek Mall was evacuated after an electrical problem in an air conditioning system. It appeared that weather was to blame.

The fast-moving storms caused a moment of panic and confusion on the UNC campus after all six of the university's sirens sounded Friday morning -- alerting the campus to a tornado sighting that never was.

Students and staff heard message telling them there was a tornado sighting. The campus paper even tweeted out "tornado sighting" and "seek shelter."

Students said they ran to the lower level of their dorms for fear there was a tornado.

Minutes later as the storm passed by, the university gave the campus the "all-clear."

A spokesperson for UNC says this was no error but rather part of a new safety plan whenever there's potentially threatening weather.

There are multiple reports of trees down across central North Carolina.

In Durham County, there was a report of large pine trees down, along with large tree limbs, in the area of Ellis Road near N.C. Highway 147.

In Orange County, someone reported trees down along Guess Road.

In Chatham County, there was report of a tree down along Ike Brooks Road.

Granville County residents reported two trees down along Joe Peed Road.

In Franklin County, a tree came down along N.C. Highway 96 and another on Walter Grissom Road.

Vance County officials had a report of a tree down near Kelly Road and Lee Lane, another down near N.C. Highway 85, and large branches down along Six Forks Road. An awning at a gas station in Henderson toppled in the storm. No one was injured.

There were also reports of scattered power outages in Wake County and in Sampson County.

» Click here for the Duke Energy Progress outage map «

The good news is the storms moved through quickly.

High pressure will build in from the west, helping the Triangle to dry out as temperatures dip down into the upper 30s Friday night. The air mass will modify heading into the weekend with a good amount of sunshine and high temperatures both Saturday and Sunday in the 60s. Lows each night will be on the cool side, moving back into the 30s.

» Click here for the 7-Day Forecast «

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(Copyright ©2014 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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Tags:
north carolina news, raleigh news, chatham county news, cumberland county news, durham county news, fayetteville news, robeson county news, vance county news, local/state
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