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Tornado watch issued for eight area counties

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NEW BERN, Craven County - A tornado watch has been issued for the area until 7 p.m. for Craven, Jones, Pitt, Duplin, Lenoir, Jones, Greene and Onslow counties.

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We are tracking the potential for strong to severe storms Wednesday.

We're tracking the threat for heavy downpours, wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour that could cause damage and the potential for a tornado.

We are also tracking some scattered, brief downpours throughout the Eastern North Carolina region in the morning hours for Wednesday. Stronger storms will develop this afternoon west of I-95 between 2-4 p.m. The storms will track eastbound into our region.

Our greatest threats for damaging winds and the potential for a tornado will occur between the hours of 2-4 p.m. The areas expected to see the greatest impact be will be west of Highway 258 and will include western Pitt County, Greene County, northern Duplin County and extreme western Martin and Bertie counties. This line will continue to track eastbound and be off of our coast by midnight.

Skies will quickly clear out overnight tonight but the wind will remain into Thursday.

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We are tracking a strong storm system that will barrel into Eastern North Carolina Wednesday afternoon into the evening hours.

As of Tuesday night, the storm system was moving out of Texas into Arkansas and Louisiana. The low will head northeast into the Tennessee Valley overnight and on into the Ohio Valley on Wednesday.

We have seen this system produce severe weather on Tuesday in Louisiana. Several funnel clouds and tornadoes were reported in that state. Some of those sightings were near New Orleans.

A warm front will lift through north tonight and we'll see our temperatures rising through the overnight. This warm front could bring a few showers early Wednesday morning but the main threat will be the destabilizing of our atmosphere.

A line of showers and storms ahead of a cold front will approach the area by Wednesday afternoon.

The storm Prediction center has all of Eastern Carolina in the "Enhanced" risk which means there a good chance for severe weather. The main threats will be damaging straight line winds in excess of 60 mph, small hail and the potential for a few tornadoes.

There is concern for a few long run and strong EF1 to EF3 type tornadoes. Time frame looks to be between 2pm - 8pm.

All residents in the area need to stay weather alert Wednesday.

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