The Daily Southerner
John H. Walker
Other than occasional gusty winds and periods of heavy rainfall, Edgecombe County dodged potentially severe weather on Wednesday.
Edgecombe was one of 29 counties in Eastern North Carolina under a tornado watch for most of the day Wednesday as severe weather that rocked the Gulf Coast states on Christmas moved through the region.
There were intermittent sprinkles in the Rocky Mount area as early as midnight, but rain did not start to fall in Tarboro until after 2 a.m. By daylight, there were periods when showers turned to downpours.
Before daylight, the National Weather Service (NWS) had issued its first tornado watch — for eight counties, including Edgecombe — with an expiration of 5 p.m.
Weather officials said the potential was good for the development of damaging winds and tornadoes and WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze described the potential storms as “long-track, which means they stay on the ground a long time.”
By 12:30, there was at least one possible tornado indicated by radar in Bladen and Robeson counties and moving northeast. A few minutes later, a tornado warning was issued for Cumberland and Sampson counties.
Heavy thunder started rumbling about 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and by 1:50, the NWS has issued a severe thunderstorm warning until 2:15 as a fast-moving storm capable of producing winds in excess of 58 miles pee hour moved in from the southeast.
As the thunderstorm moved through the area, there was localized street flooding and, in the Macclesfield and Pinetops areas, several streets and roadways were flooded.
In the western portions of the state, there were freezing rain advisories in Alleghaney and Ashe counties during the day and a winter weather advisory beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday and continuing until noon today in Yancey County. In all, 67 North Carolina counties were under either a high wind advisory, tornado watch/warning or a freezing rain/winter weather advisory during the day and evening on Wednesday.
After the weather system passed on Wednesday, skies were expected to clear, but temperatures were forecast to plummet — barely reaching 50 degrees today and topping out at 48 on Saturday. Lows were forecast at 32 this morning, 37 on Friday and 34 on Saturday.