Severe weather moving into the Triangle

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— The severe weather preceding a cool front started around 2:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon with a tornado warning for parts of Caswell and Halifax counties, that has since expired.

Much of North Carolina is under the threat of severe thunderstorms through 10 p.m. A watch includes 61 counties, including the Triangle area.

Damaging winds, hail and isolated tornadoes are possible.

“Stay weather alert,” said WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth of the level 3 out of 5 risk for severe weather that stretches across the entire viewing area.

According to Wilmoth, the timing of the storms will be late afternoon through the evening commute, with an estimated time span of 3 to 8 p.m. The severe weather will be the result of a front that brought storms across the mid-Mississippi Valley, the lower Mississippi Valley and the Southern Plains on Wednesday.

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“This is pretty serious, and it’s really our entire viewing area,” WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

While Thursday started quiet but muggy, storms were expected to move in around 3 p.m. Gusts could reach 40 to 70 mph, and hail could be the size of quarters or larger.

“The biggest severe weather threat today will be damaging wind gusts,” Wilmoth said. “We could have gusts up to 70 mph in some of the storms late this afternoon and evening.”

There was a 40% chance of showers in the afternoon and 50% in the evening. Once the front moves out of the area around 8 p.m., though, things were expected to be quiet again.

Friday looks like a good day to go to the pool or a lake, as the official start of summer will have highs in the mid-to-upper 80s and mostly clear skies.

June 21 is known as the longest day of the year. The sun will rise in Raleigh around 6 a.m., and daylight will extend past 8:30 p.m.

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