The above video accompanied a 2015 article looking back at the 2010 High Point tornado.
HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — It was a quiet Sunday afternoon on March 28, 2010, and many here in the Piedmont were watching the Duke/Baylor Elite 8 basketball game being played in Houston, Texas. The game tipped at 5:05 p.m., and, while people were watching that game, the weather started to deteriorate. During the first half of the game, a tornado touched down just west of Charlotte in Gaston County. It was racing northeast in our direction, and I remember being concerned and running into the station to get ready just in case.
As I sat in the weather center with Charles Ewing, we watched that cell move northeast into Rowan County where it dropped another tornado at 6:51 p.m. The Duke game was late in the 2nd half by this time. That tornado touched down near Spencer and moved across the Yadkin River just south of Interstate 85. Winds reached 100-120 mph, and it was rated an EF2. We were on the air covering and tracking that storm as it was on the ground for 1 mile.
A few minutes later, our attention turned to the 2nd tornado that dropped from this cell. At 7:15 p.m., we had the Sink Lake tornado. It destroyed a mobile home and sent the home into the lake. It also pushed an SUV into the lake. There were six mobile homes with significant damage. This storm was on the ground for 0.7 miles and rated an EF1 with winds of 80 to 100 mph.
As I continued to track this tornado threat on TV, I will never forget a report that came across the National Weather Service wire. Tornado Warning issued for Guilford County. The bulletin had additional information. It read, “LARGE TORNADO SEEN NEAR GREEN STREET BAPTIST CHURCH.” I read this on the air as it came in. As I read this, I felt emotion that I have never before felt. At that moment, I realized that my wife and both my kids were at that church and in harm’s way of a large tornado. I had to step away from coverage and hand it over to Charles as I called my wife to make sure they were OK. She answered and told me she had everyone evacuated to a stairway which we had years earlier determined was our safe place in case there was ever a tornado threat at the church. Once I knew she was safe, I resumed coverage and tracking the storm, naming off streets in the path.
I will never forget thinking about friends in the path of the storm as I named streets that were so familiar to me. I remember asking people to call their friends to make sure they were paying attention to the track of the storm being covered on TV. A few days after this storm, I got a call that I will never forget. It was from Mrs. Morrand. She wanted me to know she was upstairs in her home in west High Point and NOT watching weather coverage and totally unaware of the threat. She said she got a call (I think she said it was her dad) that told her to get to a safe place. He had heard me mention her street as being in the path. She said she immediately ran down her stairs, and, when she got to the first floor, the tornado hit her home and blew the 2nd floor off. She only had seconds to spare, but she made it. Since then, we have run into each other out eating and she has brought up that event.
The High Point tornado became an EF3 with winds that peaked at 138 mph. 600 structures were damaged in High Point. There were three injuries, but fortunately no fatalities. I was later told that we were very fortunate as EF3 tornadoes hitting a densely-populated area usually take lives.
A year later, we had another tornado threat over the same parts of High Point. It was showing up on radar and people saw the funnel going over the Oak Hollow Lake portion of High Point. I was on the air covering that and broke down on the air while covering it. I was overwhelmed with flashbacks from what my family nearly experienced a year earlier and thinking about my friends that had lost their homes. Fortunately, that funnel never reached the ground to cause damage here. It did produce damage east of here in Sanford and Raleigh.
By the way, Duke won that game against Baylor 78-71 and moved on to the Final 4.