Tornado unlikely in Benson, but storms brought similar damage

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— Cleanup was underway in Benson on Friday morning after strong storms moved through Thursday night.

A National Weather Service report at 6:45 p.m. Thursday said that at least 40 trees and multiple power lines fell, damaging several houses.

WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said the damage likely came from downburst winds rather than a tornado.

When a storm is high in the atmosphere, it pulls cold, dense air, which falls to the ground like a water balloon, she said.

That can cause the same damage as a tornado, Gardner said.

On Friday morning, parts of a roof were still on the ground at Gilbert Street.

“I thought we’d had a hurricane,” said business owner Danford McLamb. “I sure did. Tornado or something.”

“There had to be some strong wind,” he continued, surveying the damage.

While much of the town’s power had been restored, crews were still repairing downed poles Friday morning.