Weather

Tornado confirmed near Clinton; storms expected to bring heavy rain, flood risk to NC

Video of tornado passing through Autryville

Michael Bartlett captured video of a tornado passing by Autryville Baptist Church Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Autryville, N.C. Several homes and buildings were severely damaged and at least one person reported injured in the area. The Red Cross is a
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Michael Bartlett captured video of a tornado passing by Autryville Baptist Church Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Autryville, N.C. Several homes and buildings were severely damaged and at least one person reported injured in the area. The Red Cross is a

Strong storms moving through central North Carolina are bringing a risk of flooding, damaging winds and possible tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

A tornado was confirmed by radar Tuesday afternoon near Clinton in Sampson County, moving east at 25 mph, according to the weather service.

A tornado warning was issued for Sampson County on Tuesday afternoon, and most of central North Carolina already was under a flood watch through late Wednesday night.

A spokesman for Sampson County says multiple structures have been damaged after what's believed to be a tornado touched down.

Spokesman Richard Carr says the town of Autryville and the Bearskin community suffered property damage from the storm on Tuesday. Carr said there was "substantial" damage to the Autryville Fire Department.

Earlier, Sampson County Emergency Management said the fire department was destroyed.

Car said one minor injury has been reported. He also said emergency personnel were assessing the storm's aftermath.

Showers and embedded thunderstorms, some with very heavy rainfall were expected to continue across central North Carolina through Tuesday night. A second round of heavy rain was expected Wednesday afternoon around 2 p.m. into Wednesday night – with a total of 2 to 4 inches of rain expected, with local higher amounts possible, according to the weather service.

Forecast calls for more rain over the next few days with some areas receiving several inches of rain which may cause flooding and even more challenging driving conditions.

A very moist air mass was in place over the central part of the state, combined with a series of upper-level disturbances and a surface low crossing the area. The rain is expected to cause an increased risk of flooding along smaller streams and creeks, including street flooding in cities and low-lying areas, the weather service said Tuesday.

A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts. The weather service advised that people monitor forecasts and be alert for possible flood warnings.

“Only 6 to 12 inches of water can float a vehicle,” the weather service said. “Remember, never drive through areas where water covers the road. The water may be much deeper than it appears, and the road beneath could be washed away or weakened. ... Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Slow down and use caution while driving to avoid hydroplaning.”

A flood advisory was issued Tuesday for poor drainage areas throughout Wake County, including flood-prone areas such as Dana Drive near Walnut Creek, Hillsborough Street near Chapel Hill Road, Atlantic Avenue near Hodges Street and Avent Ferry near Trailwood Drive.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett

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