Storms cause 16,000 power outages in Triangle

STAFF WRITERJuly 23, 2011 

— A powerful line of thunderstorms swept across the Triangle today, leaving an estimated 16,000 homes in Raleigh and Durham without power for brief periods during an intense heat wave.

By 4:30 p.m., Duke Energy crews had restored electricity to all but 300 customers in Durham, utility officials reported. Duke has reported 8,000 outages earlier in the day.

In Raleigh, 8,900 customers lost power in the late afternoon hours, according to Progress Energy, which said it was working to restore all outages by 9:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning as the heat index approached 110 to 115 degrees.

The Carolinas are at the southern end of a weather pattern bringing triple-digit temperatures as far north as Maine and west to the Mississippi River.

Relief could arrive by Monday. Temperatures are expected to fall into the mid-90s, including 93 on Tuesday, with a chance for thunderstorms each day.

Police took precautions Saturday against the dangerous heat. Officers traded shifts every 15 minutes as they directed traffic at an intersection on Glenwood Avenue near the Durham County line, a police supervisor said.

Storms in central Johnston County caused a tree to fall on top of a house in Smithfield. No one was hurt, but the family was forced to seek another place to stay with help from the American Red Cross, 911 supervisor Jason Thompson said.

The storms caused a brief respite from the heat, Thompson said.

"We were looking up at the temperature, it was like 102," he said. "As soon as the storm came through, it was 82. It sure gave us a little relief."

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