(TheBlaze/AP) — Texas, Oklahoma and other states in the Plains and Midwest are bracing for severe storms expected to start Saturday and continue overnight — and while the main threat is large hail and damaging wind gusts, isolated tornadoes are a possibility as well.
More broadly, an outbreak of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms could occur from this weekend through early next week as a potent storm system slowly pushes east across the nation, according to The Weather Channel. After the Plains and Mississippi Valley, the Ohio Valley and parts of the South could see severe weather on one or multiple days.
Meanwhile residents, meteorologists and emergency officials in eastern North Carolina were surveying the scene Saturday from multiple tornadoes that damaged more than 200 homes the previous day and sent more than a dozen people to emergency rooms.
Meteorologists said Saturday that tornadoes with winds of more than 111 mph touched down in Pitt and Beaufort counties on Friday, and they were continuing to investigate storm damage.
Menacing dark clouds brought rain, wind and lightning above downtown Durham North Carolina, Friday afternoon, April 25, 2014, as cold and warm fronts clashed, making a dangerous weather situation. Forecasters are predicting a significant chance of strong tornadoes this weekend across a large part of the nation's midsection, an outbreak that could stretch from the Great Plains to the Midwest and South. (Image source: AP/The Herald-Sun, Bernard Thomas)
In North Carolina, Beaufort County Emergency Management Director John Pack said 16 people were taken to the emergency room when the storms passed through around 7:25 p.m. Friday.
Pack said 200 homes were either heavily damaged or destroyed. Pictures on news websites showed residents salvaging items from crushed mobile homes, along with snapped trees and a mangled utility pole in eastern North Carolina.
"You can track the tornado by the damage." Pack said. "It left a lot damage behind in its approximately five to 10 minutes on the ground."
[sharequote align="center"]"It peeled back my roof, just like you would a banana."[/sharequote]
Pack said the storm appeared to be about 300 yards wide and was on the ground for 10 miles. He said the line of damage started in the west-northwest portion of the county and traveled to the northeast.
At one point, Pack said, 8,000 people were without power, but most had been restored by Saturday.
Pack also said two major farming operations in the county sustained damages, but he didn't have further details.
In Halifax County, Antonio Richardson said the roof was blown off his home on Friday afternoon. He said he and a friend took shelter under his mobile home.
"It peeled back my roof, just like you would a banana," Richardson told WRAL-TV in Raleigh.