Tornado in Raleigh, NC (4/16/2011)


(Author’s note: I decided to keep the original text as I wrote it that day. I wanted to change the first paragraph to reflect some new information that came in with the classification of this long-track, violent & deadly tornado, but later decided against that, and placed that as a update later in the blog. The bulletins used throughout are excerpts from the Raleigh NWS office upon their issuance. This blog posted has been updated with information about the tornado after the occurrence of this event. This post was named a top 25 blog post by WordPress.com on April 16, 17 and 18th, 2011.)

A tornado is on the ground. It is a large, violent tornado with the debris ball signature on radar. Here is a pic of that debris ball.

Raleigh radar image of debris ball at 3:20 pm ET

Also here is the link for WRAL-TV for the coverage of the tornado: WRAL-TV, Raleigh, NC

This tornado has caused damaged damage in Sanford, NC (just SW of Raleigh) to homes & business. Seek shelter immediately. A tornado emergency is in effect for Raleigh, NC. Here is the bulletin.

A Tornado Warning remains in effect until 400 PM EDT for
southeastern Durham… southwestern wake… eastern Chatham…
northeastern Lee and north central Harnett counties…

At 308 PM EDT… National Weather Service Doppler radar continued to
indicate a tornado. This tornado was located about 15 miles
northeast of Sanford… moving northeast at 70 mph. Multilple houses
have been reported destroyed in Lee County from this tornado.

This is a tornado emergency… act now to protect your life. Move to
an interior room of the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Use
blankets or pillows to protect your body from flying debris. Avoid
windows.

Locations in the path of the storm include… apex… CArpenter…
Cary… Morrisville… Lake Wheeler… Research Triangle Park… rdu
international Airport… Garner and Raleigh.

3:35 pm ET: Reports of a Lowe’s Hardware in Sanford, NC and a Home Depot in that town has been destroyed. Also, debris has been reported in the air in Apex & Holly Springs, NC. Damage reports are numerous in Lee & Wake County, NC. Look for more updates here.

3:40 pm ET: EMERGENCY OFFICIALS REPORTED A DESTRUCTIVE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO NEAR HOLLY SPRINGS… MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH

3:45 pm ET: Widespread damage being reported with confirmed tornado southwest of Raliegh, NC moving northeast at 70! You only have moments to act! There is a destructive #tornado on the ground near Holly Springs, NC, southwest of Raleigh.

3:48 pm ET: Large, violent tornado on the ground 4 miles SW of downtown Raleigh, NC! Raleigh NWS office is seeking shelter due to the approaching tornado.

3:55 pm ET: Radar image of debris ball over downtown Raleigh with a tornado (rain-wrapped) on the ground.

4:00 pm ET: North Carolina State University & Wake Forest University now confirmed in the path of this tornado & large supercell.

4:05 pm ET: Trained spotter reports numerous brick buildings destroyed along south Saunders Street in southeast Raleigh. Also numerous reports of cars overturned, buildings damaged & destroyed. Trees also uprooted.

4:10 pm ET: Rolesville, NC now in the path of this tornado. Numerous buildings destroyed in Raleigh. Here is a pic of the tornado over downtown Raleigh as shown on WRAL-TV.

4:20 pm ET: Numerous power lines down near US-401 in North Raleigh being reported. Numerous homes also have reported damaged in St. Andrews & Holly Springs, NC. Tornado emergency continues NE of Raliegh. Also, every car in the Lowe’s parking in Sanford has damage as well.

4:28 pm ET: 4 miles south of Raleigh, NC: Meteorologist reported the roof of Earps seafood market on S Saunders St partially ripped off

4:52 pm ET: Tornadic circulation continued near Clinton, NC. Tornado emergency extended toward Halifax County, NC

5:00 pm ET: More confirmed damage near Holly Springs of homes damaged and trees snapped.

5:05 pm ET: Tornado continued to be on the ground near Faison, NC. Tornado emergency continues.

6:00 pm ET: Catastrophic damage confirmed in Sanford NC.

7:00 pm ET: 5 people confirmed dead as a result of the tornado.

9:00 pm ET: Holly Springs, NC has declared a curfew from 10 pm to 7 am tonight due to the damage done by the tornado. Also Wake County is under a state of emergency.

9:30 pm ET: Getting reports from my followers on Twitter and a couple of people who left comments on here that Sanford, NC is virtually unreachable due to numerous impassable roads.

7:45 pm ET Sun. Apr. 17th: Tornado is classified by the Raleigh NWS office as an EF-3. Winds of 160 mph max, as well as a path of 63 miles with a width at times of 3 miles! Read my follow-up post, “Raleigh-Sanford, NC Tornado Confirmed as 3-Mile Wide EF-3 Tornado”, for more information on this tornado. This tornado touched down near Cameron, NC in northeastern Moore County, a little before 3 pm ET on Saturday, April 16th. This tornado had a path of 63 miles and has been rated an EF-3 tornado with maximum winds of 160 mph. The tornado was on the ground until it was close to Rolesville, NC. For most of that path, this tornado showed a distinct debris ball signature on radar.

Several of you have also commented on this storm to my blog & thank you for doing so. Here are a few of these comments left on here today. I will post more of these as they come in.

shmrd – “I live within a few miles (3 or 4?) from where the tornado passed through Holly Springs. Drove by corner of Piney-Grove Wilbon & Avent Ferry. . . trees are snapped like twigs. People’s roofs are in shambles. There’s probably lots more I didn’t see.”

Judith – “My best friend lives in Sanford, NC. He called and said that the city looks like a war zone, mainly to the south by the Lowes. Cars ate thrown all over like toys. Road are not passable in many areas and the electricity is out in areas all over the city. Terrible! We are praying for all the victims and their families.”

The following are weather bulletins issued by the Raleigh NWS Office on April 16th, 2011. These bulletins were posted during the course of the event.

The bulletin at about 4:15 pm from Raleigh, NC NWS on this storm.

. A Tornado Warning remains in effect until 445 PM EDT for
Granville… Vance… Franklin… west central Nash… wake and Johnston
counties…

At 408 PM EDT… National Weather Service Doppler radar and emergency
officials were tracking a destructive and extremely dangerous tornado
with visible debris. This tornado was located near Rolesville… or
10 miles northeast of Raleigh… moving northeast at 50 mph.

This is a tornado emergency for… Creedmoor… Wake Forest… Emit…
Stem… Kenly… Youngsville… Berea… pilot… Franklinton… Oak
Hill… Bunn… Oxford… Kittrell… Louisburg… Spring Hope… Dabney…
Stovall… Ingleside… South Henderson… Gillburg… Henderson… Kerr
Lake… Tungsten… Middleburg and Bullocksville.

This is a tornado emergency… act now to protect your life. Move to
an interior room of the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Use
blankets or pillows to protect your body from flying debris. Avoid
windows. If in a vehicle or outdoors… move to the closest
substantial shelter.

A Tornado Watch remains in effect until 900 PM EDT Saturday evening
for central North Carolina.

4:40 pm ET bulletin showing this tornado continues on the ground heading toward Centreville, NC:

BULLETIN – EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RALEIGH NC
425 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN RALEIGH HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR…
NORTHERN NASH COUNTY IN CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA
NORTHEASTERN FRANKLIN COUNTY IN CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA
NORTHWESTERN HALIFAX COUNTY IN CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA
SOUTHERN WARREN COUNTY IN CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA

* UNTIL 515 PM EDT

* AT 422 PM EDT…EMERGENCY OFFICIALS REPORTED A DESTRUCTIVE AND
EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO 6 MILES SOUTHWEST OF
LOUISBURG…MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH.

* THIS IS A TORNADO EMERGENCY FOR…
LOUISBURG…
CENTERVILLE…
ARCOLA…
AIRLIE…
LITTLETON…
ROSEMARY…

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

THIS IS A TORNADO EMERGENCY…ACT NOW TO PROTECT YOUR LIFE. MOVE TO
AN INTERIOR ROOM OF THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING. USE
BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO PROTECT YOUR BODY FROM FLYING DEBRIS. AVOID
WINDOWS. IF IN A VEHICLE OR OUTDOORS…MOVE TO THE CLOSEST
SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER.

Weather statement at 4:55 pm ET:

.A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 515 PM EDT FOR SOUTHERN
WARREN…NORTHWESTERN HALIFAX…NORTHEASTERN FRANKLIN AND NORTHERN
NASH COUNTIES…

AT 435 PM EDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR CONTINUED TO
INDICATE A TORNADO. THIS TORNADO WAS LOCATED 6 MILES SOUTHWEST OF
CENTERVILLE…OR 5 MILES EAST OF LOUISBURG…MOVING NORTHEAST AT 55
MPH.

LOCATIONS IN THE PATH OF THE STORM INCLUDE… RED OAK…AVENTON…
ARCOLA…GLENVIEW…AIRLIE…LITTLETON…ENFIELD…ROSEMARY…HALIFAX
AND SOUTH WELDON.

THIS IS A TORNADO EMERGENCY…ACT NOW TO PROTECT YOUR LIFE. MOVE TO
AN INTERIOR ROOM OF THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING. USE
BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO PROTECT YOUR BODY FROM FLYING DEBRIS. AVOID
WINDOWS. IF IN A VEHICLE OR OUTDOORS…MOVE TO THE CLOSEST
SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER.

Statement at 5:12 pm ET as the supercell continued moving northeast near Roanoke Rapids, NC and into Brunswick/Greensville County, VA.

BULLETIN – EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WAKEFIELD VA
512 PM EDT SAT APR 16 2011

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN WAKEFIELD HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR…
NORTHWESTERN NORTHAMPTON COUNTY IN NORTHEAST NORTH CAROLINA…
SOUTHEASTERN BRUNSWICK COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL VIRGINIA…
SOUTHERN GREENSVILLE COUNTY IN SOUTH CENTRAL VIRGINIA…

* UNTIL 545 PM EDT

* AT 509 PM EDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO. THIS DANGEROUS
STORM WAS LOCATED 6 MILES SOUTHEAST OF LITTLETON…OR 11 MILES
SOUTHWEST OF ROANOKE RAPIDS…AND MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH.

* THIS DANGEROUS STORM WILL BE NEAR…
GASTON AND BARLEY AROUND 525 PM EDT.
DAHLIA AROUND 535 PM EDT.

OTHER LOCATIONS IMPACTED BY THIS DANGEROUS STORM INCLUDE VULTARE…
GUM FORKS…SLATES CORNER…TURNERS CROSSROADS…PLEASANT HILL AND
BRINK.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

TAKE COVER NOW. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A
STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF IN A MOBILE HOME…A VEHICLE… OR
OUTDOORS…MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT
YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.

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38 thoughts on “Tornado in Raleigh, NC (4/16/2011)

  1. Thank you for the info. I have a son and daughter in law in Sanford NC with very little info on the tornado that struck there. Any and all info appreciated. Thank you.

  2. Pingback: Raleigh Nc
  3. My best friend lives in Sanford, NC. He called and said that the city looks like a war zone, mainly to the south by the Lowes. Cars ate thrown all over like toys. Road are not passable in many areas and the electricity is out in areas all over the city.
    Terrible! We are praying for all the victims and their families.

  4. I live within a few miles (3 or 4?) from where the tornado passed through Holly Springs. Drove by corner of Piney-Grove Wilbon & Avent Ferry. . . trees are snapped like twigs. People’s roofs are in shambles. There’s probably lots more I didn’t see.

    • Hi. We are trying to reach friends in Cary. They live on Ranchero Ct. Do you know of that neighborhood had damage. A reply would be so helpful!
      Thank you

      • I live in Cary. I did see a tree hit by lightning (it was charred) leaning on power lines, so power could have been out.

      • Wake forest University is actually in Winston-Salem, which is several hours West of Raleigh. Wake Forest is the town just North of Raleigh that would have been affected. (i.e. WFU was never threatened, Wake Forest the town was)

    • The tornado did hit the outskirts of the town of Wake Forest, around the Wake Crossroads area, on Mitchell Mill from Forestville up to Watkins is obliterated.

  5. i was in Wake Forest and all was good! the worst that hit wake forest was power going out from 3:00 from 9:45 i also have cousins that go to college at ECU and NC State and their fine! :D hope i gave info to anyone who needed it!

  6. My boyfriend lives in roxboro and he hasnt contacted me or any of his family in days….im starting to get scared…

  7. Undeniably consider that that you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be at the net the easiest factor to have in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed even as people think about concerns that they plainly don’t recognize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as smartly as outlined out the whole thing with no need side-effects , other people could take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thank you

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