03/08/04 — Windy weather

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Windy weather

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on March 8, 2004 1:58 PM

Winds whistled through the Wayne County area Sunday night, blowing limbs off trees and doing enough damage to power lines to put about 1,000 customers in the dark.

The roof blew off a mobile home on Kelly Springs Road and there was some other structural damage.

Gusts reached 44 mph, according to gauges at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the News-Argus.

Mobile home looses roof

Bobby Williams

Iris Wooten, right, and her mother, Thelma Pingatello, look at the debris left after the roof of Ms. Wooten's mobile home was blown off during high winds Sunday night. Mrs. Pingatello lives next door on Kelly Springs Road near Indian Springs Road in southern Wayne County.

By morning, all but nine of Progress Energy's customers had their power back. Keith Westbrook of Progress Energy said the hardest hit areas in Wayne were Nahunta, Faison and Grantham.

Jimmy Pate, Fire Marshall for Duplin County, said there were reports of some trees down throughout his county.

"We had some roofs ripped off barns, and some tin stripped off of hog houses and turkey houses," Pate said. "All in all, the damage was pretty minor. And there were no reports of anyone being hurt."

Iris Wooten escaped injury when the wind tore the roof off her trailer on Kelly Springs Road, but she was shaken up by the experience.

Ms. Wooten was still awake Sunday night when the winds started whipping around her home, causing the trailer to rock.

The lights flickered and went out, leaving Ms. Wooten struggling to find her way to the front door.

As she was making her way along, she said, it felt like the "wind was trying to make her house blow round and round."

Ms. Wooten then heard the trailer top ripping off, and as she scrounged around in the dark, she finally found the door. After struggling for a moment, she finally pried the door open and ran to her mother's house nearby.

Once the wind calmed, friends came and helped Ms. Wooten move her belongings out of the trailer.

Light rain also fell during the windstorm, which started around 9:30 and lasted until after 10.

Winds scoured the county off and on over most of the unusually warm weekend with gusts in the 30 mph range Saturday.

Forecasters failed to predict high winds with the Sunday night passage of a cold front and warnings were only issued after they began. The information was not broadcast for Goldsboro over the NOAA emergency weather alert radio.

The National Weather Service is calling for a chilly night tonight with lows in the 30s and the possibility of snow showers late Tuesday or Tuesday night. Temperatures will return to seasonal highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s by the weekend.

Elsewhere, an elderly man was killed when he was struck by a fallen tree as winds whipped by a cold front stormed across North Carolina.

Police said Howard Drusin, 81, died shortly after 8:30 p.m. Sunday when he was hit on the head by a tree that fell on the deck of his house.

Authorities also reported that downed power lines caused some fires and electric crews worked to restore power throughout the night. Outages totaled more than 130,000 early this morning, down from more than 200,000.

Power interruptions were reported as far east as the Wilmington area and in Bladen, Pender, Columbus and Sampson counties. New Hanover County dispatchers said officers had seen transformers blown around on the grounds and there were reports of transformers exploding on utility poles.

According to the National Weather Service in Raleigh, winds gust as high as 60 mph in some parts of the state.

The wind disrupted power at Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, postponing three high school basketball playoff games. The games were rescheduled to today.

Trees fell on houses and on cars. Dozens of fires were reported in Davie County. Brush fires and house fires caused by downed power lines were also reported in Forsyth.