Weather service confirms tornado touched down in Gates County


GATES COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Gates County officials say they have been busy cleaning up Friday following Thursday afternoon and evening storms.

Now, the National Weather Service has confirmed an EF-0 tornado touched down Thursday, causing some of that damage.

Winds were estimated at 85 mph in the tornado’s path.

The director of emergency management in Gates County says they got between 20 and 30 calls for service for downed power lines and trees — some of those trees also fell on homes.

“Between 20 – 30 calls for service with trees down, power lines down,” said Billy Winn, the Gates County Emergency Management Director. “We had some trees on houses, some roofs off of houses and we’ve been doing some assessments with that today.”

Most of that damage came from downed trees. Gates County Emergency management said Friday afternoon they have identified 42 instances of “significant damage.”

Residents and crews were out much of the day Friday cleaning up debris.

“It came out of nowhere,” resident Tiffany Turner said. “The wind just immediately picked up, you couldn’t see, it was like putting your head underwater and it was like just muddy, like you couldn’t see. It was just really cloudy, but you could hear, I could hear the trees popping around me.”

Turner’s family was largely spared, but multiple trees crashed onto her in-laws’ home.

“They had several trees come down on their roof, put holes in their roof, actually wound up with a limb in the kitchen floor so they’ve got some pretty serious damage to the house,” Turner said.

“It was like a bomb went off,” Turner added.

The department also posted a map Thursday night showing a 16-mile “swath” of damage reports through the county. About three miles of that damage was where the tornado touched down, and the rest was caused by “gustnados,” also known as straight line winds.

Gates County said the American Red Cross Disaster Services are helping residents with major issues.

NC Baptist Men Disaster Response crews will come to the county Saturday to begin assessments and cleanup with chainsaws.

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