Drenched: Band of storms leaves mini-floods, marble sized hail
By Catharin Shepard and Aaron Moore
Published in News on June 30, 2010 1:46 PM
A strong gust of wind caused this tractor-trailer to overturn about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday on the U.S. 70 Bypass at Berkeley Boulevard. The driver was not injured. The National Weather Service said winds reached as high as 70 miles per hour during the rainstorm that crossed Wayne in the early afternoon.
A pickup sits partially submerged near a loading dock behind the Staples store on North Berkeley Boulevard on Tuesday afternoon. The driver, Billy Joe Tucker, managed to escape the rising waters but his vehicle was caught in the low spot and later had to be towed.
Strong wind gusts, marble-sized hail and torrential rain flooded streets and overturned a tractor-trailer in Goldsboro on Tuesday afternoon as a strong storm system passed through the county.
Goldsboro received 2-3 inches of rain in about an hour, according to the National Weather Service.
The temperature dropped nearly 20 degrees in just a few minutes, plunging from the low 90s to the mid 70s as a cold front moved across the central and eastern portions of the state, triggering a line of thunderstorms.
A severe thunderstorm warning issued for Wayne County lasted until 5 p.m. and a severe thunderstorm watch was in effect until 9 p.m. The county was also under a flash flood warning until 5 p.m.
The high winds overturned a Keebler tractor-trailer on the U.S. 70 West Bypass at Berkeley Boulevard. The truck fell over on the right-hand shoulder, lying in the right westbound lane. The truck tipped over shortly before 2 p.m. in winds that the Weather Service said may have gusted at up to 70 miles per hour.
Goldsboro police and firefighters arrived on the scene in heavy rain and hail and blocked off the westbound lane of the U.S. 70 Bypass. Traffic was diverted onto Berkeley Boulevard until emergency officials cleared the road.
The driver was not injured. Traffic was flowing normally by about 3:30 p.m.
Marty Metzler and Robin Bossert of Park Imports and Designs reported seeing dime and quarter-sized hail at the Goldsboro Industrial Park. Across the street, a flag flapped raggedly at AAR Cargo Systems after the heavy gusts tore the edges off, dropping a pile of the fabric into a puddle in front of the building. Some vehicles with the windows left down collected inches of water up to the floorboards, but there were no reports of damage to the industrial park facilities.
The parking lot in front of Books-A-Million on Berkeley Boulevard was completely filled with water, leaving cars submerged up to their tires and shoppers stranded inside the store until the water finished draining.
Carolyn Byers and Chloe Crawford said they had made plans to visit the bookstore when the storm came on them. Going down Park Avenue on their way there, they said, was like going through a river.
"I kept saying, 'Be a good car, be a good car,'" Crawford said, describing how hazardous the driving was through the rain water.
Shortly after making it to Books-A-Million, the two women decided they could wait out the water inside before finishing their errands.
Billy Joe Tucker, who happened to be driving through the storm, was not so lucky. As he navigated the rapidly deepening water behind Staples trying to get away from the storm's plummeting hailstones, he hit a 5-feet-deep drop-off where delivery trucks usually park and his pickup truck was submerged up to the windows.
Tucker said he is from out of town and, never having been through the parking lot behind Staples before, he had no idea the drop-off was there.
"They really need a sign or something to tell people it's there," Tucker said after a tower pulled his truck from the water. "They said they get about four or five people stuck there a year."
Rain water, however, was not the only issue the city had to contend with. Wind damage also wreaked havoc of its own downtown, knocking out an automatic PowerRain car wash system at the Comco Berkeley Car Wash on Berkeley Boulevard.
Karen Downer, who works as a cashier in the outside booth at the Comco station, said she witnessed the large mechanism fall out of the car wash port, and though she said it "threw me for a loop," she said she has braved worse storms in her booth.
"If I'd have been new, it would have probably scared me," she said. "I don't get scared till the canopy starts swaying."
She referred to the canopy structure standing over the gas station.
Downer said she also happened to be serving a customer at the time of the accident. The man was reportedly standing at the window to her booth paying for gas.
"He couldn't believe it," Downer said. "He just said, 'God, I can't believe I just saw that.'"
The storm will mean cooler weather for the rest of the week, Brandon Dunstan of the Weather Service in Raleigh said.
"That should help lower temperatures as the front moves through. We should start seeing highs in 80s later in the week," he said.