Winds rattle Wayne County
By Ty Johnson and Josh Ellerbock
Published in News on December 27, 2012 1:46 PM
This billboard on U.S 117 South in the Mar-Mac community was stripped of its canvas and paper display Wednesday afternoon by high winds. Storm damage was minimal across the county despite a tornado warning and the reported sighting of a funnel cloud between Grantham and Genoa.
Less than an hour after the National Weather Service canceled a pair of tornado warnings for Wayne County, there were blue skies and plenty of sunshine across the southern end of the county as residents emerged to play with Christmas toys outside just as the dark clouds dissipated.
Emma Kornegay, 3, was out playing with her Christmas gift, which came in the form of an 8-month-old tuft of white fur named Lexi, but that didn't mean her father, Jonathan, hadn't been concerned about the storm.
As Emma held her new bichon frise puppy and her father's 10-year-old golden retriever, Daisy, chased a tennis ball in the calm aftermath of Wednesday's thunderstorm, Kornegay said the howling winds had spooked him into heading to his grandmother's house, made of brick, where he and Emma rode out the storm with his brother.
"I wasn't staying here, that's for sure," he said, gesturing to his older home.
Kornegay said if not for his daughter he probably would have stayed put, but when family members and friends began calling to make sure the two were OK, he decided to play it safe.
"You couldn't see in front of you," he said, adding that at one point the strong winds and heavy rain led his family to hide out in the bathroom in case a funnel cloud had touched down.
While there were reports of a funnel cloud in the area between Grantham and Genoa, the National Weather Service issued just one tornado warning, for the northern end of the county southwest of Pikeville. That tornado warning was canceled shortly before it was to expire at 2:15 p.m. as the severe weather gave way to rainbow sightings.
Ditches there overflowed to the point of flooding roadways beneath dark skies, which caught the attention of Linda Nickson, a cashier at the Kangaroo Express on North William Street.
"I didn't see the funnel cloud, but I saw the darkness," Ms. Nickson said. "It was an eerie dark."
There were no reports of damage in the county outside of a few windblown holiday decorations and Wayne County was spared the brunt of the storm that dumped 1.68 inches of rain on the Goldsboro area. The same system had brought dozens of tornadoes to the Southeast on Christmas Day.
The National Weather Service said a Wednesday tornado with a quarter-mile long path and winds of 90 mph knocked down trees and damaged a house near Beaufort in Carteret County. No injuries were reported in eastern North Carolina.
Officials say ferry service was suspended between Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island after a ferry ran aground. It took more than four hours to get the boat unstuck. The weather also canceled two ferry runs from Cedar Island to Ocracoke Island.
Charlotte had 1.72 inches of rain and wind gusts of around 40 mph were reported in many places.
While the severe weather has passed, the area continues to be under a hazardous weather outlook with wind gusts between 30 to 35 mph expected mainly between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Frequents gusts of about 25 mph should be expected.
According to the National Weather Service, the brisk west to northwest winds can be expected today in central North Carolina, mostly in the northern coastal plains and northern piedmont.
Staff writer Steve Herring and The Associated Press contributed to this report.