AP NEWS

EF-2 tornado pounds eastern Wake County as storms rake central NC

May 14, 2019

Two rounds of severe weather moved through central North Carolina on Monday, including an EF-2 tornado that roared through eastern Wake County and was on the ground for several miles.

Uprooted trees damaged houses and roads throughout Zebulon, and power lines were toppled in other areas of the region.

No injuries had been reported as of Tuesday morning.

National Weather Service meteorologists were not able to complete damage surveys Monday, but a preliminary report said the tornado first touched down west of Rolesville Road and Tink’s Place.

Early damage was consistent with winds between between 86 and 110 mph, with uprooted and mangled trees in the area.

The exterior walls of a house on Weathers Road collapsed, the report said, and several metal farm buildings were destroyed.

An RV had flipped over numerous times and landed in an open field, consistent with EF-2 damage, or damage from winds between 111 and 135 mph.

The report found that the tornado then crossed U.S. Route 264 and moved along N.C. Hwy 97 into Zebulon.

WRAL’s Nia Harden found that numerous roads and homes were damaged from uprooted and snapped trees near downtown Zebulon.

NWS meteorologists returned to the area Tuesday morning to continue their surveys.

Darrell Alford, the deputy director and chief of operations for Wake County’s fire services/operations, said the tornado was on the ground for up to 8 miles before lifting off the ground near a Walmart.

“We are very thankful to report we had no injuries that were transported by EMS units as a result of this storm,” Alford said. “The tornado traveled 7 to 8 miles on the ground, uprooting trees, downing power lines, leveling structures and bringing traffic to a standstill on U.S. Highway 64 and Highway 97.”

The storm system turned severe shortly after 10 a.m. Monday, officials said.

Alford said Wake County emergency dispatch center received more than 60 calls in the first hour as the storm moved through the region.

Nine other fire agencies and several law enforcement agencies responded to Zebulon to help with storm recovery, Alford said.

As a result of the weather, East Wake Academy opened two hours late Tuesday.

“We need to make sure power is restored to campus and to give our families time to assess their surroundings in the morning. If we do not have power – families will be informed before 7:30 a.m.,” according to a Facebook post.

The second round of storms brought heavy rain and hail to Garner and other central N.C. cities.

A Walmart in Garner was forced to close temporarily as the rough weather moved through.

Images submitted to WRAL News from viewers and readers show cars with holes in their windshields and homes with cracked windows.

At the height of the storm, nearly 7,000 people were without power in Wake County, and there were other widespread power outages in Chatham, Nash and Franklin counties.

As of Tuesday morning, electricity for most customers had been largely restored.

Tuesday will be much calmer after the storm system pushed through a cold front, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

As temperatures stay in the upper 60s and 70s throughout the region, skies should be mostly clear.

Temperatures will dip into the 40s overnight Tuesday.

The rest of the week will be quiet, Gardner said, with a small chance for a thunderstorm during the weekend.

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