The National Weather Service in Raleigh reported tornado warnings for Davidson and Randolph counties - east of the Triad - around 6 p.m. Doppler radar indicated the likelihood of a twister headed east. It said preliminary data gathered Thursday confirmed a twister touched down.
The storm hit southeast of Lexington in Davidson County. A 50-year-old woman and 3-year-old girl died as a result of the storm. Details about the victims have not been released. At least 11 people were hurt, and 35 homes and buildings were destroyed.
A 4-year-old boy was found alive in a county field in only his underwear after getting blown out of his family home by the storm. Rescuers carried the boy, who appeared to be unharmed, back to his family.
Officials said the storm caused significant damage to a mobile home park.
"It was just raining pretty heavy, and then all of a sudden my front door went flying open," mobile home park resident Amy Dixon said. "So I went and grabbed it and pulled it back and noticed the wind was really, really heavy and then I felt the trailer start rocking."
In Randolph County, there was a report of a truck blown off the road and damage to homes.
Weather Across the South
In South Carolina, three people were killed and five injured when a likely tornado swept through a rural community near Rock Hill, about 20 miles south of Charlotte, N.C.
Simone Moore told The Herald newspaper she was sitting on her back porch when she saw the tornado touch down and then quickly move back up. She said after the storm passed, she noticed a nearby trailer had vanished.
"Everything's gone," Moore said. "Even the cows in the pasture."
The National Weather Service says the storm also may have dropped tornadoes as it moved across Laurens and Union counties, but no major damage has been reported in those areas.
The severe weather was connected to a strong cold front. The same storm system produced several possible tornadoes across the Southeast Wednesday, damaging dozens of homes and buildings. At least six people have been killed and dozens more injured.
Suspected tornadoes were reported in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and thousands of people were without power as trees and power lines were downed.
In eastern Alabama, a suspected twister splintered trees and demolished mobile homes at a pair of housing parks near the Auburn University campus.
As weather service experts fanned out to assess damage, Auburn graduate student Staci DeGeer didn't have any doubts about what sent a pair of trees crashing through her mobile home at Ridgewood Village.
"It's tornado damage. I'm from Kansas; I know tornado damage," said DeGeer, who wasn't home at the time. "It's kind of hit or miss. There will be two or three (trailers) that are bad and then a few that are OK."
Trees fell on homes in southeastern Mississippi, where Jones County emergency director Don McKinnon said some people were briefly trapped. Mobile homes were tossed off their foundations. In all, 15 people were hurt in the area.
Forecasters said a cold front stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast was to blame. Temperatures dropped in some areas from the low 70s to the 50s as the front passed, and winds gusted to near 30 mph.