News Classified

Thunderstorms herald big change in weather for region

RALEIGH - Lightning lit up the North Carolina skies Friday and thunder rumbled as stormy weather moved through the state ahead of a front expected to bring below-freezing temperatures to the state.

Tornado watches were issued throughout the state, beginning in the western Piedmont in the early morning hours, then moving to the northeastern part of the state. Wilson County was under the watch. A tornado warning was issued briefly for Warren County near the Virginia border.

At least one death might be blamed on the weather. Authorities say a car skidded into a light pole on th north side of Durham about 5:30 a.m., and the pole fell on the driver's side of the car.

N.C. Highway Patrol officials say the department has been handling more automobile accidents than usual because of the morning's heavy rains. "They've been piling up one behind another, especially on (U.S.) 264," said a spokesman.

Wilson Emergency Services officials also reported a rash of accidents.

"We always have a higher than normal number when it rains," said Joyce Wegrzyn.

Scattered power outages were reported in portions of Raleigh, and a wall was ripped from a home in Orange County.

Homeowner Beth Sheed said she first thought she heard hail on her tin roof.

"I jumped up and saw that the front door had been blown open, and walked into the front bedroom and heard the rain outside, and when I turned the light on, the whole side of the wall had disappeared." Most of North Carolina had enjoyed unseasonably warm weather over the past couple of weeks, with temperatures reaching the 70s in some areas.

By the weekend, temperatures were expected to top out in the 40s with lows generally in the 20s.