The Raleigh Naturalist

April 18, 2011

Nature Knocks Downtown Raleigh

Filed under: Central Raleigh, Gems & Surprises, Nature Lore, Raleigh History, South Raleigh — Tags: , , — raleighnaturalist @ 7:00 pm

piece of Memorial Auditorium roof with damage visible right background

A tornado or series of tornadoes accompanied a quick moving spring storm on Saturday afternoon, April 16th and left a trail of death and destruction across Raleigh, mostly south and east of downtown. Farther north, pine trees crashed into a mobile home at Stonybrook off Brentwood Road and instantly killed three young boys. There were 21 fatalities across the state, and Shaw University closed down for the semester with widespread damage. Raleigh Public Record has a big portfolio of images, as does NandO, and WRAL has a gallery as well – but what I want to see is a track record of these powerful winds, which sheared off trees 50 yards from my house and caused widespread lasting damage. I hope to update this post with more meteorology info later. Below are my images – mainly of the venerable oaks toppled and pruned in City Cemetery and elsewhere downtown.

closer look at Memorial Auditorium damage

City Cemetery at New Bern and East Street

cropped cedar in City Cemetery


The entrance to City Cemetery on New Bern Avenue.  A comment on Goodnight Raleigh’s photos mentiones the extensive damage from here to Tarboro Road.  Clearly the damage was overwhelming and Sunday morning it was amazing to see unattended damage, unpoliced intersections with no stoplights, and downed lines with no crews in sight.  I fully realize they had their hands full elsewhere.

New Bern Avenue closed by tornado damage

New Bern avenue family surveys damage

Martin and East Street downtown

South East Street after tornado

damage at corner of Moore Square

touring the tornado damage Sunday April 17

Blount and South Street after 4-16-11 tornado

damage at Shaw and Memorial Auditorium

cropped trees in Shaw's practice field

uplifted turf in southeast downtown Raleigh

I have another whole set of pictures from the Maywood Street area between S. Saunders and Lake Wheeler Road.  I’ll post them soon with updates on the scientific measure of this storm, which may have generated as many as 8 tornadoes, some at least F3 in scale.  Hope you all are well!



  1. I spent the day doing damage assessments in Fayetteville today (Monday) even worse there. Although the old parts of town were spared, I saw 100′ long leaf yellow pines 24 inches in diameter knocked about like matchsticks. The real heartbreak was that this magnificent timber was not being salvaged at all. 40′ logs worth thousands of dollars each were being cut into four foot lengths and piled up for disposal. Terrible personal losses too–I looked at about 400 houses today and tagged 167 of them destroyed, 158 of them with major damage. Statewide count so far is 60 tornados, several of them F-2 to low F-3. Natn’l Weather service will be surveying for a couple of days to publish official report. The damage I’ve seen about Raleigh looks like F-1 to low F-2. More than 20 weather-related deaths statewide as well. We have not had a hammering like this from tornados since 1983.

    Comment by Chris Crew — April 19, 2011 @ 1:44 am

  2. I dont think we’re in Kansas anymore(:

    Comment by Sam — August 26, 2011 @ 12:37 am

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