NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Winds gusting 60 miles per hour, torrential rain, marble-size hail and countless lightening strikes have some people saying Sunday’s strong thunderstorms felt like a hurricane.
In Wilmington’s Myrtle Grove neighborhood, residents were still cleaning up their yards Monday.
One homeowner there says during a strong thunderstorm Sunday evening, they heard a weird noise. When they assessed the damage, they found a tree in their yard that smelled like burning wood. They think it was struck by lightning.
Many families in Myrtle Grove woke up to limbs and fallen trees scattered across their lawn.
NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Steven Pfaff says he assessed the damage across the community after claims of a potential microburst Sunday. He says the damage is just marginal and that most of the fallen trees were just old.
Residents say it was a scary experience nonetheless.
“It felt like a mini hurricane for sure,” said Kelsey Currie, a Myrtle Grove resident. “It definitely felt like a tornado was coming out of it too because it was so windy like the trees were almost bent at 90 degree angles.”
Pfaff says regardless of whether it was a microburst it takes just one tree to fall and cause damage.
One local business owner was at the forefront of the thunderstorm in Carolina Beach.
“As soon as the rain started to come, you could see everyone running for the cars and if they couldn’t make it in time, they tried to take cover either under a gazebos but the winds were so hard even if you were outside under a cover, the rain was still gonna hit you,” said Jeanei Chaffer who owns Latella Gelato.
Chaffer says people rushed from the sand to their cars as the weather shifted to a hectic scene Sunday putting her day’s income at risk.
“A lot of times they will try to take cover in the store, but when you’re wet and you’re cold, you’re not in the mood to always invest in the local businesses,” Chaffer said. “You’re just trying to plan your exit strategy.”
But, losing customers isn’t the gelato shop’s only worry on bad weather days. Chaffer says if they lose power for too long, they have to make more product.
“The more hours that go by we need to be cautious because you’re out of safety zone in terms of refrigeration and in terms of freezer so once the power goes out for a certain amount of time your product isn’t going to be any good any more and you have to start from scratch,” Chaffer said.
Chaffer says she’s constantly watching the weather to keep her business thriving.