Possible tornado touches down

From Staff Reports

The Daily Advance

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A severe storm one official said may have included  a possible tornado rumbled through the region Friday evening, damaging several buildings, downing power lines and knocking out power to thousands.

Elizabeth City police Chief Eddie Buffaloe said he could not confirm that a tornado had touched down. Friday night, he was trying to get confirmation from the National Weather Service that the storm was a tornado.

He said no injuries had yet been reported from the storm, but officials were out checking the hardest-hit areas.

Damage was reported at the Meadowlands mobile home park on Peartree Road, but Buffaloe did not know the extent of the damage or how many homes were damaged.

A building at Elizabeth City State University — Buffaloe believed it was the campus wellness center — lost its roof in the storm, he said.

There are numerous power lines down across the city and power across the city was out, he said.

In Chowan, Sheriff Dwayne Goodwin said several houses on Macedonia Road, Burnt Mill Road and Yeopim Road were damaged in the storm. Some houses appeared to be destroyed by wind, he said.

City Manager Rich Olson, who was out of town, said the damage reports  he was receiving appeared to suggest a tornado had touched down.

“It does look like we had some sort of small tornado, according to the damage that’s been reported to me,” Olson said.

Power to some sections of Elizabeth City could be restored within a “couple hours” and in other parts, possibly “12 to 24 hours,” he said Friday night.

Crews from other ElectriCities member cities were called in to help city crews restore power. The most significant damage to power lines was a transmission line along Weeksville Road near the K.E. White Center, Olson said.

Between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Friday, police scanners were jammed with  reports of homes damaged and of a motorist trapped in a vehicle surrounded by live downed power lines.

There were multiple reports of trees being blown down, including along River Road in the city and from Edenton to Hertford.

Downed trees and power lines were also seen along Weeksville Road.

A street dance performance by The Embers planned for downtown Edenton was canceled.

Golfball-sized hail was reported throughout the region, and The National Weather Service reported a possible tornado was sighted near Halls Creek in Pasquotank County at 8:10 p.m. and moving at 25 mph toward Elizabeth City State University and Whitehall Shores in Camden County.

Other locations expected to be impacted by the tornado were Burnt Mills, Spences Corner, Lambs Corner, Belcross and Gregory.

The line of severe storms moved from southeast toward the northeast. All tornado watches and local warnings were canceled prior to 9 p.m.

Dominion North Carolina reported thousands of customers were without power as of 9 p.m., including 776 in Camden, six in Chowan, 209 in Currituck, 2,061 in Pasquotank and 715 in Perquimans counties.

Lights along city streets were still out around 9:30 p.m. Friday.

In Currituck County, there was a report of a structure fire on Harbinger Ridge Road, Currituck County Sheriff Susan Johnson said, a little after 9 p.m. Otherwise, she was unaware of any serious storm damage. “As of right now, we fared fairly well,” she said.

At presstime Friday night, there was no information available about the cause of the fire. but Mary Beth Newns, director of Currituck Emergency Management Services, said dispatch had received calls about lightning strikes, along with numerous calls about debris in the roadway and a few calls about downed power lines.

Meanwhile, storms also rumbled across much of North Carolina earlier on Friday, toppling trees and causing property damage.

No injuries were reported, The Associated Press reported.

Eastern North Carolina experienced two rounds of severe weather Friday. Officials reported three mobile homes were damaged near the town of Chicod in Pitt County. Emergency Services Director Noel Lee said he had no reports of significant damage and no evidence of any tornadoes despite numerous reports of funnel clouds.

To the west, a strong storm took down trees and power lines in the Statesville area.

The National Weather Service said the worst of the damage was northwest of the city, where a spotter reported garage doors blown in and siding ripped off homes.

Central and eastern portions of the state were under a tornado watch until 9 p.m.