EF-2 tornado causes heavy damage in Wendell, Zebulon; NWS to complete survey today

North Carolina

The National Weather Service will release a full report on Tuesday about a tornado that left a trail of damage in the Wake County communities of Zebulon and Wendell on Monday.

The NWS will determine the exact track of the EF-2 tornado on Tuesday.

The tornado, which preliminary information suggests began just west of Rolesville Road near Tink’s Place and ended east of Zebulon, left behind toppled or snapped trees, downed power lines and homes now in need of repair.

The tornado had wind speeds between 111 to 135 mph. The path width and length has yet to be determined, but the NWS should release their findings later.

There were also reports of trees fallen on houses and down in streets in Wendell. One farm in the town suffered serious damage with at least one structure collapsing. Multiple trees were knocked down at the farm and some trees had the tops completely sheared off from the wind. The fence outside the home had been completely ripped off by the wind.

“I’m just still nervous until I hear that all the families are OK that are in the area,” one Wendell resident said. “I’m heartbroken that our community has suffered something like this again.”

Downed trees appear to be the most common result of yesterday’s tornado and cleanup crews worked through the day yesterday to help residents sift through the damage. They’ll be back out on Tuesday.

Those that CBS 17 spoke with on Monday said they were just grateful to be alive and others described how quickly the tornado hit their homes.

“I’m just glad to be alive. Thank the Lord. Praised the Lord,” said Jimmy Parker.

The tornado tore through Parker’s property on Weathers Road in Wendell. While Parker’s home wasn’t damaged, he said several farm buildings were leveled beyond repair.

“I peeked out the window and here comes a piece of irrigation pipe flying across the backyard and landing,” he said.

National Weather Service officials from Raleigh spent time on Parker’s property surveying the damage to buildings and trees to determine how strong the tornado was.

“Are windows broken? Is there a loss of roofing or shingle material? Is the door broken? Stuff like that,” said lead meteorologist Brian Haines.

Haines confirmed the tornado touched down in Wendell.

Town officials said the twister first touched down off of Davistown Road, before traveling seven or eight miles near N.C. 97, then through the heart of Zebulon.

“In just a matter of seconds, the crash came down, which I’m assuming was this tree.  The whole house shook. I didn’t have time to get scared, because it happened so quick,” said Lee Adams of Zebulon.

“I’m just glad no one got hurt. It’s a little bit devastating, but nobody got hurt,” said Adams.

Parker said he was grateful neither he nor his neighbor were hurt.

He wanted to remind people to pay attention to severe weather alerts, saying he only had about 15 seconds to get to safety.

“When they hear that tornado alert, they need to be headed for cover. Because it can be on you that quick. I got them a lot of times before, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that one would be on me that quick.”

Parts of Garner saw large hail in addition to heavy rain. Homes, businesses and vehicles in Garner were damaged by hail that, in some cases, was bigger than a golf ball.

Areas in Nash County also suffered serious damage as trees fell on houses and cars following severe storms there. There’s no indication yet that a tornado touched down in the area, but strong winds and heavy rain still left a big impact.

Incredibly, no injuries or fatalities have been reported at this time in any of the areas impacted on Monday.

Meteorologists with the NWS were not able to complete their survey of the tornado on Monday due to darkness. They will finish on Tuesday, at which point they will release their findings and the exact path of the twister.

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