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

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— Two rounds of severe weather moved through central North Carolina Monday, including an EF-2 tornado that roared through eastern Wake County and was on the ground for several miles as it knocked down trees, toppled power lines and dumped several inches of rain.

Darrell Alford, the deputy director and chief of operations for Wake County’s fire services/operations, said during an afternoon news conference that a tornado was on the ground for up to 8 miles in the area of Rolesville and Davis Town roads, and it traveled on the ground N.C. Highway 97 to Gannon Avenue and through downtown Zebulon 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 7-8 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 National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touch down in Wendell and Zebulon, and the agency has dispatched a team to gather more information about the storms, which turned severe shortly after 10 a.m., officials said.

Alford said Wake County emergency dispatch center received over 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 will open two hours late on Tuesday, officials said.

“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.

Stormy Monday

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

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

The first round of turbulent weather rolled through mid-morning Monday.

Parts of Zebulon seemed to have been hit the hardest during that first round. Live pictures from Sky 5 showed several areas of debris, and one home seemed to have been virtually demolished.

No injuries have been reported so far.

There were several building with heavy damage to their roof and there were several fields with fallen trees that were felled by winds and rain.

Wake County and some areas east of it were under a Level 2 risk of severe weather that expired during the afternoon hours. Hail, gusty winds and heavy rain was possible. At the height of the storm, nearly 7,000 people were without power in Wake, and there were other widespread power outages in Chatham, Nash and Franklin counties.

As of Monday evening, it appeared that electricity for most customers had been largely restored.

Quieter weather on the way

The rough weather that moved into central North North Carolina has moved out of the area, WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

An upper-level low pressure system will bring cooler, drier air into the region.

“It will bring cooler air in the afternoons on Tuesday and Wednesday,” he said. “

The mercury is expected to drop to the mid-60s Monday night and the high temperature will top out only around 70 degrees Tuesday.

“It will be delightful weather,” Maze said.

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By Wednesday morning, the low temperature could dip into the 40s.

A gradual temperature resurgence begins Wednesday.

While some clouds return for Thursday through the weekend, they will serve only to provide relief as the temperatures climb back into the mid-80s by Friday or Saturday.

After Monday, there is no rain in the forecast for the week.