05/03/04 — Power outages reported in Wayne

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Power outages reported in Wayne

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on May 3, 2004 1:57 PM

From AP and staff reports

Severe thunderstorms toppled trees and clipped power lines in central and eastern North Carolina on Sunday, and the weather is being blamed for a fatal traffic accident in Kings Mountain, authorities said.

Wayne County Emergency Services Director Joe Gurley heard reports of high winds but did not know of any property damage in the county.

"There may be some, but there's nothing major, nothing I'm aware of," Gurley said this morning.

Progress Energy reported that about 800 people lost power in Wayne County, starting at 2 p.m., and all were reconnected within an hour.

Crops apparently have not been hurt by the heavy rain, Wayne County Agriculture Extension Agent Bob Pleasants said this morning.

Some farms, particularly in northern Wayne, had three inches or more of rain Sunday afternoon, but the county has not heard of any "drowned" crops, Pleasants said.

"As dry as it's been, the rain should have been soaked right in," he said. Some tobacco farmers may have lost some fertilizer due to runoff, but that's a minor loss.

Corn isn't tall enough to have been affected much by the winds, he said. Tobacco plants have recently been put out and are always susceptible to hail damage, but no hail has been reported.

The weekend's wet weather has delayed some cotton planting, but farmers will recover as long as the forecast of warmer, dryer weather holds, he said.

The state Highway Patrol said Christopher Shiloh, 17, was killed when his 1993 Pontiac hydroplaned on Interstate 85 near U.S. 74 in Kings Mountain and slammed into a stopped police car.

The patrol said a Kings Mountain police officer was responding to a call to help a sports utility vehicle which had slipped off the road. The officer, Timothy Bell, and the driver of the SUV were treated and released at a local hospital.

The storms formed just west of South Carolina and moved northeast, according to the National Weather Service. In Charlotte, the weather service reported 1.36 inches of rain, but the total for the year remains about 6 inches below normal.

A tornado apparently touched down in Harnett County around 5:19 p.m., the weather service said. Though it was only on the ground for a few minutes, the tornado ripped the roofs off several homes along one road about seven miles west of Angier.

The weather service issued a tornado warning for the area about five minutes before the first sightings were reported.

"All the conditions were right for a tornado," said Brandon Locklear, a weather service meteorologist. "It was a very strong storm. It really grew and gained strength as it traveled."

About 1,700 homes in Chapel Hill were without power for an hour and a half because of a downed tree, said Duke Power spokeswoman Cathey Bennett.