National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Severe Thunderstorms and Tornadoes 4/15/1999

On the evening of Thursday April 15th, a supercell thunderstorm developed and produced tornadoes across Robeson and Bladen counties, injuring several (one fatally) and producing numerous reports of damage.

The storm actually formed during the afternoon across the mountains of northeastern Georgia as part of a pre-frontal squall line before moving into the upstate region of South Carolina. It tracked eastward into the South Carolina midlands where additional moisture and instability helped it intensify to severe limits. As it crossed the state line into Robeson County, it also moved ahead of a low pressure center which was developing in the area, further increasing moisture, instability and, especially, shear. Here, it evolved into the supercell which caused all the destruction. The first report of damage came around 8 pm from a downburst east of Maxton, destroying a mobile home and injuring one. Soon after, a tornado developed just east of Pembroke. The twister, estimated a zero (or lowest) on the Fujita tornado scale, destroyed four trailers in the Moss Neck area, trapping two people and sending several to the hospital. One man was killed when the trailer he was visiting fell and crushed him. As the storm continued across the county, another tornado destroyed two mobile homes and a house in the East Howesville area between Lumberton and Tar Heel.

The storm continued to strengthen as it moved into northern Bladen County. An F0 tornado developed around 9 pm just south of Tar Heel. It destroyed 6 mobile homes in the Monroe Trailer Park, injuring five. Further east, the storm produced a downburst which damaged a garage and destroyed a pair of grain silos west of White Oak. Trees were reported down farther east near Ammon.

The supercell continued to produce damaging winds and tornadoes later into the evening as it tracked eastward across Sampson, Duplin, Jones, Lenoir and Craven counties. 

Note: This event was later named the North Carolina "Tornadocane" for the immense and tightly wound supercell this storm became across Duplin County, NC.  A spotter reported a wind gust measured at 165 mph just north of Trenton, NC in Jones County according to a special Storm Prediction Center webpage about this storm.


7:59 PM reflectivity

Reflectivity image from 7:59 PM 4/15/1999

The storm was near Maxton in Robeson county shortly before the first damage occurred.


7:59 PM SRM

Storm relative velocity image from 7:59 PM 4/15/1999

The beginning of the Pembroke tornado are evident at this time near Raemon in southwest Robeson county. The green and blue represent movement toward the radar while the red and yellow indicate movement away from the radar.


8:59 PM Reflectivity

Reflectivity image from 8:59 PM 4/15/1999

The storm was near Ammon in northeast Bladen county. Trees were blown down near Ammon and silos were downed shortly before near White Oak.


8:59 PM SRM

Storm relative velocity image from 8:59 PM 4/15/1999

The remains of the tornado that destoyed mobile homes south of Tar Heel are visible at this time north of Ammon.