The National Weather Service says it was a gustnado that caused Friday evening’s damage near Swan Quarter.
Damage was reported on Main Street, Quarter Road and Bridgman Road along a 250-yard wide path stretching nearly 2.3 miles with winds estimated at 80 mph.
A line of showers and thunderstorms moving eastward produced a gustnado on the leading edge of the gust front, also known as the outflow boundary, according to an assessment by personnel at the National Weather Service office in Newport/Morehead City.
A gustnado is “a rotating column of air in contact with the ground but not extending from a thunderstorm cloud,” the weather office reported on its Facebook page. “These often form on the leading edge of stronger winds well ahead of the actual thunderstorm itself.”
The gustnado formed in a farm field off Creekside Road, which was captured on video and seen by multiple eyewitnesses. The gustnado moved eastward, passing just north of the town center of Swan Quarter.
A few larger branches were broken with a one piece of a metal roof blown off along Main Street.
Farther east the location of the most damage occurred along Quarter Road near the intersection of Bridgman Road. where a small camper was overturned, and 10 percent of shingles were torn off a single story house on Quarter Road.
The gustnado then crossed Quarter Road and peeled 80 percent of a tin roof off a large farm warehouse, and threw large portions of it as far as a half mile into a large farm field.
A small wooden outbuilding near the farm warehouse was pushed off its foundation of cinder blocks and moved about five feet. This small structure was anchored into the ground.
The gustnado then dissipated in a farm field about a half mile to the east of Quarter Roard.
Friday’s high winds also caused some soundside flooding in downtown Manteo. The town advised residents to move vehicles out of the area and “secure anything that could float away.”