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Storm investigators ask: Did early tornado hit North Carolina?

January 12, 2012 |  9:59 am

 

Storm investigators were examining damage in western North Carolina on Thursday, trying to determine whether severe storms that moved through the area spawned a tornado, according to the National Weather Service.

At least 15 people were injured and 60 buildings were damaged when storms swept through parts of North Carolina on Wednesday, said Pat Tanner, a government hydrologist, in a telephone interview Thursday morning. No deaths have been reported.

“You have teams right now looking into” the storms, Tanner said, examining the path and trying to determine the strength and category. It was too early to know if the storms produced a tornado.

The storms struck in Rutherford and Burke counties late Wednesday afternoon as a cold front moved through the region. The storms traveled through in hours.

At issue for North Carolina is not whether a tornado strikes but when.

Since 1950, 23 tornadoes have been reported in that part of the ste state, so a tornado “is not real unusual,” said Tanner, who is based in South Carolina. However, it would be unusual for one to move through this early in the year.

The Red Cross opened a shelter Wednesday night for those needing a place to stay after the storm moved through.

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-- Michael Muskal

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