National Weather Service surveys Martin County storm damage

MARTIN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – Following tornado warnings Monday that were issued for multiple Eastern Carolina counties, the National Weather Service (NWS) headed out to one county hit by storms to assess the damage.

Monday, Martin County was one of many counties put under both severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings.

“At first it just kinda sounded like a really bad thunderstorm, and then another tornado warning actually came,” resident Kate Williams said.

Residents saw heavy rain, lightning, and hail. Karson Williams said she was coming back from Virginia when she saw dark, circling clouds.

“I felt scared and I felt nervous,” Karson said.

Because of those storms, the NWS surveyed the area Tuesday and collected data on the damage. Based on the amount of damage and the patterns, they are able to calculate the severity of the storm and its path.

“That will help us determine whether or not we had a tornado here in Martin County, straight-lined winds, or if we don’t find damage, maybe a tornado did not happen,” Warning Coordination Meteorologist Erik Heden said.

According to Heden, there was minor damage around the county, with small branches along the road and tin lifted from buildings, which they determined was from straight line winds.

“When the storm came in, it was like just a bunch of rain and it was soaked everywhere and there was thunder and lighting,” resident CJ Williams said. “It didn’t really scare me that much, but it could have scared some others. It was just a lot of rain and thunder and lightning.”

With the severe weather season continuing, Heden said severe thunderstorms can happen at any time, so it is important to be prepared.

“Having a way to get those warnings is really important,” Heden said. “If you have a cellphone, make sure it’s not on ‘do not disturb.’ It will alert you at night. Also, have something battery-powered if the power goes out.”

Although only minor damage could be seen, Heden said the county is a heavily wooded area, so there could be more damage that can’t be seen without a drone.