CHOCOWINITY, BEAUFORT COUNTY - Of the seven tornadoes that touched down across eastern Carolina on Friday, the strongest was the EF-3 in Beaufort County. Unlike the other twisters, the Beaufort County tornado was on the ground for a full 21 miles.
The damage began on Taylor Road just outside of Chocowinity. National Weather Service employees estimate it first made contact just after 7:30 Friday night. Homeowner Lori Morgan says her husband saw the tornado touch down only feet away.
"It just came down right out of the sky my husband was standing on the back porch. The boat was sitting out there behind that barn and it just started moving up in the sky with it, and he ran in and told me to get in the closet and that's where we went." says Morgan.
From there the tornado rapidly intensified from an EF-0 into a strong EF-2. A neighborhood near the Highway 33 and Highway 17 intersection sustained damage. Several houses were damaged badly. The United Methodist Church Storm Relief Team was along Carolina Avenue in Chocowinity to help homeowners who lost chunks of their houses.
At this point the storm cell producing the tornado merged with a line of storms to the west intensifying the spin of the storm.
The hardest hit area was along Wichards Beach Road, according to the National Weather Service. Several homes were completely destroyed. The tornado was ranked an EF-3.
After crossing the Pamlico River, the tornado weakened back into an EF-2 where it continued to deliver damage to houses along the intersection of NC-32 and Highway 264.
The National Weather Service says it then tracked for an additional 10 miles before dissipating over farmland.