TORNADO is a word that strikes fear in the hearts of all Carolinians. Violent tornadoes with winds in excess of 150 mph have struck the state as early as March and as late as November.
On April 16, 2011 the largest tornado outbreak in state history swept across central and eastern North Carolina, impacted more than 30 counties, claimed 24 lives, injured 133 people, destroyed and damaged thousands of homes and businesses.
The second worst outbreak occurred March 28th, 1984 when violent tornadoes tracked across Red Spring, Kenansville, Kinston, and the Greenville area resulting in many fatalities and injuries. Strong to violent tornadoes have occurred across the state over the past years resulting in numerous injuries and 28 million dollars in damages.
Tornadoes can occur virtually any time of the year. However, North Carolina's primary tornado threat occurs in the spring from March through early June. A secondary peak occurs in the summer, primarily associated with land falling tropical cyclones.
A study ranks North Carolina with the highest percentage of fatalities from nighttime tornadoes. Since 1950, 82 percent of tornado fatalities have occurred at night even though only 28 percent of all tornadoes touched down during this time.