National Weather Service confirms eastern North Carolina tornadoes


Meteorologists said Saturday that while its survey is continuing, they have confirmed EF-2 tornadoes touched down in Pitt and Beaufort counties on Friday. A final assessment is expected late Saturday.

Specifically, the meteorologists said a low-end EF-2 struck near Chicod in Pitt County. A moderate EF-2 hit near Chocowinity and a high-end EF-2 struck Whichards Beach.

On the enhanced Fujita scale, an EF-2 has winds of between 111 mph and 135 mph for a 3-second gust.

Beaufort County Emergency Management Director John Pack said 16 people were taken to the emergency room when the storms passed through around 7:25 p.m. Friday.

Pack said 200 homes were either heavily damaged or destroyed.

"You can track the tornado by the damage." Pack said. "It left a lot damage behind in its approximately five to 10 minutes on the ground."

Pack said the storm appeared to be about 300 yards wide and was on the ground for 10 miles. He said the line of damage started in the west-northwest portion of the county and traveled to the northeast.

At one point, Pack said, 8,000 people were without power. By midday Saturday, the number was down to 300 as 60 power company crews worked across the county. He said power should be restored to the least damaged homes by Sunday.

Pack also said two major farming operations in the county sustained damages, but he didn't have specific details.

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The National Weather Service also confirmed three tornadoes touched down Friday near Chapanoke to Elizabeth City in Perquimans and Pasquotank Counties.

In Elizabeth City, multiple injuries were reported and power lines were blown down with police left directing traffic.

The sheriff's department says some homes are badly damaged and there are cars flipped over and wrapped around trees.

At least a dozen homes were damaged or destroyed in nearby Perquimans County.

People living in parts of Halifax County believe a tornado also brought down numerous trees and damaged homes in the small community of Ita on Friday evening.

Part of the roofs of several homes were damaged by winds or when trees came crashing down.

Yashica Lynch said he was thrown into a panic. He was rushing around the home looking for his young kids and wife, then yelling at them to take cover after he saw a frightening image outside.

"I looked out the window and saw this funnel cloud starting to form and my son ran and got his phone, and I got mine, and we went inside the bathroom," said Lynch.

Two other homes on Ita Road also suffered structural damage. There's nothing but beams left at one of the homes. At another house, the roof was ripped off. The homeowner was outside and saw everything.

"We saw the roof when it went down with the wind," said Ricky Evans. "Peeled off like it was peeling open a can of sardines."

Evans told ABC11 that he had just finished remodeling his home before Friday's storm.

Some other homes on Ita Road suffered minor damage. Shingles came off and trees were down.

People in the area said no one was injured.

It's still unclear if a tornado actually touched down in Halifax County.

Hail was reported in several areas, including Durham and Fayetteville. Quarter-sized hail was reported in Wayne and Person Counties. Near Goldsboro, hail between dime and nickel-sized was reported. Golf ball-sized hail was reported between 3 and 3:30 p.m. in Mebane.

Click here for video of large hail reported at Fort Bragg.

In northern Wake County, there were numerous reports of trees down and power outages as well.

The sound of chainsaws filled the air Friday night. A large pine tree fell at Kristen Stephenson's home in Wake Forest.

"We were in the house and didn't even hear it fall," said Stephenson. "I saw traffic stopping, and we had all the doors shut because of the storm, and then I opened the front door and I saw it lying across the road."

The large tree from Stephenson's yard was big enough to cover Wall Road, but too quiet to be heard during the height of the storm.

"All you could hear was just the rain and the wind," said Stephenson.

The DOT had to be called in after the tree was too big for even the fire department to cut up.

Just up the road off of Main Street, another tree fell, which blocked entry into Glen Royall Mill Apartments.

In Franklinton, utility workers worked to restore power at Green and Main Streets. DOT crews were also at Mason Street dealing with down trees and power lines as well.

Fortunately, there were no reports of injuries.

"All this can be replaced," said Stephenson.

Click here to view Duke Energy's latest outage map.

In Greene County, emergency services confirm that a tornado touched down near Fort Run.

WCTI-TV reported that several homes have been damaged, and thousands of people are without power.

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