MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. — Officials have confirmed that a tornado in Beaufort County on Friday rated as an EF-3, making it 2014’s strongest tornado yet.
EF-3 tornadoes sustain winds at between 136 and 165 miles per hour. Officials said this tornado is the first one this year that has been an EF-3 or higher.
Severe weather brought a round of tornadoes and damaging winds to North Carolina on Friday evening, according to officials.
The National Weather Service confirmed multiple tornado touchdowns in the area from Chicod and Beaufort Counties.
There have been no fatalities reported, but several people are reported injured – at least one critically – according to a Pasquotank County Emergency Management spokesperson.
Tornado cleanup is now underway in several counties. The North Carolina Office of Emergency Management and local officials report that several homes and businesses sustained damage in the storm.
More than 200 homes in his county are estimated to have sustained major damage and 2,500 homes are without power, according to John Pack, spokesman for the Beaufort County Emergency Management.
The National Weather Service, county volunteer fire crews and more than 100 electrical crews are working to assist residents.
A strong storm system could bring more severe weather — including tornadoes, damaging winds and hail — to much of the country this weekend.
As the storm moves over the Rockies toward the plains, the weather is expected to linger through at least Tuesday.
This storm poses a serious risk of tornadoes across parts of the country, with southern Missouri, Arkansas, northeast Texas, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi and western Tennessee having the greatest risk of violent tornadoes, according to the Storm Prediction Center, which monitors severe weather across the United States.
The SPC said it may upgrade tomorrow’s threat level to “high risk.” This would be the first “high risk” threat this year – a warning that is typically issued only a few times a year.
This year has been one of the quietest tornado seasons in U.S. history, and we have set a record for going the longest into a new year without a tornado fatality, according to the SPC.
CNN meteorologist Matt Daniels predicts a slight risk of severe storms Saturday evening from central Texas into southeast South Dakota. This may include damaging winds and large hail, but does not rule out a few tornadoes.
Sunday, the moderate risk of storms expands to include the area from Houston north to Des Moines, Iowa. Strong tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail are possible in the afternoon and evening.
Monday, the severe weather advances further east into northeast Louisiana, Mississippi, northwest Alabama and western Tennessee. There is also a slight risk of storms stretching into the Midwest, north Georgia and western South Carolina and North Carolina. These storms could produce damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes (some could be strong) throughout the day.
All residents in affected areas are urged to monitor weather reports and take appropriate safety precautions.
CNN contributed to this report