North Carolina Tornadoes Injure 15 People, Damage Hundreds of Homes

By Mark Leberfinger, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
April 27, 2014; 5:07 AM ET
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At least 15 people were transported to the hospital on Friday evening after a tornado struck in Beaufort County, N.C., an emergency management official said Saturday.

There were also an undetermined number of "walking wounded" who went to the hospital, Beaufort County Emergency Coordinator John Pack told AccuWeather.com.

"The good news is that nobody died. That's remarkable in itself," Pack said.

The National Weather Service at Newport/Morehead City, N.C. reports that an EF-3 tornado was confirmed along Whichards Beach in Friday night's storm.

The tornado was an EF-0 when it touched down near Chocowinity but grew in strength to an EF-3 with an estimated wind speed of 150 mph by the time it reached Whichards Beach, the weather service said.

Areas affected by the Beaufort County storm were areas east of the town of Washington, N.C. A state of emergency was declared late Friday evening restricting travel in the affected areas from dusk to daylight except for residents who can prove they live there, Pack said.

At least 200 homes were severely damaged or destroyed, Pack said.

North Carolina Emergency Management assisted with damage assessments on Saturday to determine if the severe weather event will meet the threshold of a disaster declaration, Gov. Pat McCrory said.

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Throughout Friday evening, violent thunderstorms swept northeastward across the Carolinas, bringing tornadoes, golf-ball sized hail, severe lightning and damaging wind gusts more than 60 mph.

A cold front, though weak, combined with a strong cold pocket aloft, and spun in the atmosphere early in the afternoon hours to spark the initial severe thunderstorms in the increasingly warm, more moist air in the central part of North Carolina, AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dave Houk said.

"Those were mostly hail or damaging wind producers," Houk said. "The storms grew further in the warmer, more humid, unstable air as they moved into the eastern part of the state, and with that deeper growth and spin, started spawning tornadoes.

"The storms eventually merged into more of a solid line of storms with additional reports of tornadoes and damaging winds in the northeastern part of the state in Pasquotank County until shortly after 8 p.m. The line of storms then moved out into the Atlantic."

There were 10 tornado reports, but some of those were from the same storm, so the actual count will probably be lower, Houk said.

Three mobile homes were damaged near Chicod in Pitt County, according to The Associated Press. The National Weather Service at Newport/Morehead City, N.C. said that an EF-2 tornado with an estimated maximum wind speed of 115 mph touched down in that area.

As the storm system moved off the coast, severe weather risks dissipated into Saturday morning.

About 10,000 North Carolina electric customers were without service, about 3,400 customers in Beaufort County. Pack said it could take 48 hours before service is totally restored in his county.

A tornado was reported to have touched down in Castoria, Greene County, N.C., according to the county fire department. Tornadoes also were reported near Aventon, Halifax County, and near Rabbit Corner, Pasquotank County, N.C.

Injuries were reported after storms hit Pasquotank County, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

Possible tornado damage was initially reported with several damaged buildings in White Level, Franklin County, N.C., about 4 p.m. EDT Friday, the National Weather Service at Raleigh said. The damage was caused by straight-line winds between 75 and 80 mph.

Golf-ball sized hail was reported throughout the state, with reports across Pitt and Halifax counties, N.C., according to an NWS spotter.

In addition, flash flooding created problems for motorists near Garysburg, Northhampton County, N.C., as waters reached car windows and stranded cars along the Jackson bypass roadway, according to county emergency management.

Numerous roads also remained impassable through the evening around Jackson, N.C., due to flash floods.

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