GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — We’re in the middle of severe weather season in North Carolina.

From lightning to hail to tornadoes, we really have it all. Let’s talk about how to identify different types of severe weather so you can be prepared. 

Strong thunderstorms bring down trees, power lines in ENC

Shelf cloud (Max Claypool, WNCT photo)

It’s already been an active spring of severe weather across Eastern North Carolina, with all 29 of our counties hit in some way. If you saw some dark and dangerous-looking clouds coming towards you, you might think a tornado was coming. But shelf clouds usually mean the severe wind threat is bigger than the tornado threat.

Shelf cloud (Meghan Mamlock, WNCT photo)

Check out this gnarly shelf cloud shot by “Hello ENC” host Meghan Mamlock that came over Greenville in early May. Thunderstorms that day caused widespread wind damage to trees and powerlines. They also produced a ton of hail.

Quarter-sized hail is enough to warrant a severe thunderstorm warning, and plenty of storms dropped hail at least that big across the area.

Check out this hail fog shot by WNCT’s Kenneth Roundtree in Pitt County. We avoided tornadoes that day but haven’t been so lucky this spring. An EF1 tornado caused severe damage to a mobile home In Duplin County in April.

After quarter-sized hail and 60 mph winds, tornadoes are the third criteria that make storms severe. North Carolina sees an average of 31 tornadoes a year, with April being the most active month.