Stormy weather in the forecast

Published 10:43 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Roanoke-Chowan area residents should keep their eye on the sky and their ear tuned to regional media outlets, including, on Thursday.

Just less than two weeks after the deadliest storm on record struck the local area, weather experts are warning of another round of severe thunderstorms, possibly producing tornados.

The National Weather Service office in Wakefield, Va. has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for all of its coverage area in eastern North Carolina and Virginia.

A strong cold front approaching from the southwest will slam into an extremely moist and unstable air mass currently in place along the Eastern Seaboard. Isolated to scattered thunderstorms are expected during the peak heating hours this afternoon and evening (Wednesday). The highest chances will reside west of I-95. A few of these storms may become severe, again especially west of I-95, capable of producing wind gusts of 60 mph or greater along with large hail, one-inch or greater in diameter.

That front will march further east on Thursday where the threat of severe thunderstorms – again capable of producing damaging winds and large hail – are expected to fire-up in the afternoon and early evening hours.

According to Dr. Greg Forbes, Severe Weather Expert on The Weather Channel, a TOR:CON (Tornado Condition Index) rating of 4 has been assigned to northeast North Carolina on Thursday. That rating (on a scale from 0-8) means a low chance of a tornado, but hail and/or strong wind gusts are possible.

To date, April has been the most active and destructive on record. Dr. Forbes said there have been 292 confirmed April tornados in the United States, breaking the old mark of 267 such storms in 1974. He said the average for the entire month of April is 163 tornados.

Forbes stated there have been over 5,400 severe weather reports (tornadoes, hail, and high winds/wind damage) so far in April. On average, only about 3,300 severe weather reports are tallied in an entire April nationwide.

Those numbers include the deadly outbreak of tornados in North Carolina on April 16. There, 32 twisters hit the Tar Heel State, five of which reached EF3 strength. Twenty-four deaths were attributed to those storms, 12 of which were in Bertie County.

Hopefully, this pending round of storms will lack the intensity of the April 16 outbreak, but area residents are urged to remain on high alert and seek safe shelter if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

After the passage of this cold front, the local weather looks delightful for the weekend. Highs on Friday and Saturday will be in the mid-70’s under sunny skies. Sunday’s sunny forecast calls for a high of 81 degrees. Overnight lows during that period will range from the upper 40’s to the mid-50’s.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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