Weather

It can be tough to see NC tornadoes coming. But the Greensboro twister cut a 34-mile path.

Drone video: Tornado in Greensboro had wind speeds of 135 mph

Tornadoes, toppled trees and ripped apart homes, businesses and an elementary school in Greensboro and Reidsville, NC Sunday, April 15, 2018. Duke Energy crews were working Monday to restore electric service to more than 31,000 customers.
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Tornadoes, toppled trees and ripped apart homes, businesses and an elementary school in Greensboro and Reidsville, NC Sunday, April 15, 2018. Duke Energy crews were working Monday to restore electric service to more than 31,000 customers.

Tornadoes in North Carolina are typically harder to see coming than those in the Great Plains. But that doesn't mean N.C. twisters behave gently.

A tornado that touched down just after 5 p.m. Sunday on the eastern side of Greensboro left a path of destruction that was 33.6 miles long and roughly one-quarter of a mile wide. The EF2 twister, with 135 mph winds, plowed through homes and damaged properties, including three elementary schools that will remain closed for the rest of the year.

One man died in the storm when a tree fell on the vehicle he was in.

East Coast twisters are often more rain-wrapped than their western counterparts. Dark clouds obscure their shape and their precise location.

North Carolina lacks the flat and open landscapes found in the Midwest, and here, “forestation and elevation changes limit your view,” said Mike Strickler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

After leaving Greensboro, the Sunday's tornado spun northward into Rockingham County, eventually ending in Ruffin.

A Facebook video shot on the highway by Stephanie Hopkins shows a tornado moving through Greensboro.

Statewide power outages peaked at about 85,000 Sunday evening. Approximately 4,800 customers across North Carolina remained without power Wednesday morning, mostly in Guilford County.

In Wake County, an EF1 tornado touched down near Wendell on Sunday night with wind speeds up to 87 mph. It left a path that was three-quarters of a mile long. Nineteen homes suffered minor damage, according to assessors.

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An aerial view of significant damage to W.M. Hampton Elementary School Monday, April 16, 2018. Two storms, reported as tornadoes, toppled trees and ripped apart homes in Greensboro and Reidsville Sunday afternoon. Duke Energy crews were working Monday morning to restore electric service to more than 31,000 customers in central North Carolina counties.

“When I visited areas struck by the storms earlier this week, I was heartened to see first responders, neighbors and volunteers working together to help survivors start to recover,” N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement Wednesday.

State and local emergency officials are still working to complete assessments of the weekend storm damage. Then they can determine whether any areas qualify for financial assistance from the state and federal government, according to Cooper.

“Emergency management experts are working to complete their assessments swiftly so these communities will know what kinds of resources may be available to help," he said.

Colin Warren-Hicks: 919-419-6636, @CWarrenHicks
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