SPC Stats

Path length: 83 miles

Width:  400 yards

Fatalities:  4

Injuries:  154

Rating:  F4

County:  Wake, Franklin, Nash, Halifax

A devastating F4 tornado made its way across five North Carolina counties on November 28, 1988. The tornado began at 1am EST in Umstead National Park in the NW part of Raleigh. It ended almost two hours later, two miles NW of Jackson in Northampton County. It had an 83-mile track that was almost continuous.  

Per the NWS Storm Data Entry, the strongest damage (F3 and minimal F4) occurred along a four mile stretch extending northeast from US Highway 70 to four miles east of the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Numerous businesses were destroyed along US Highway 70 including a K-Mart.

Overall, 426 residences and 78 businesses were destroyed. Over 2000 residences were damaged. There were 154 injuries and 4 fatalities. Two children were killed in Raleigh: 8-year-old Janet Barnes and 12-year-old Pete Fulghum. From the Asheville Citizen-Times, November 29, 1988:

A clip from the Greenville News, December 1, 1988:

Near the Nash-Franklin County line, Leroy and Mary Alston were killed in their mobile. Here is a clip from the Rocky Mount Telegram from November 28.

NOTE: This tornado is found on November 27 in the SPC Database. They list all events in Central Time so the timestamp for this is 23:00 on 11/27. The tornado though officially occurred at 01:00 EST on November 28.  

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  Start: 35.87 / -78.75     End: 36.45 / -77.42

Corrected coordinates based on damage reports:

Start: 35.857216/-78.754106       End: 36.415094/-77.437329

Veers: 35.961118/-78.407507, 36.147020/-77.928674, 36.267266/-77.721745, 36.321244/-77.555357

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Photos via Storm Data

Facebook Embeds


Newspaper Clippings


We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the November 1988 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:


  • SPC/NCDC have a 400 yard width.
  • Storm Data has a width of 250 yards.
  • Grazulis has a width of 200 yards.


  • Because the SPC using Central time, this tornado event is found in the database on November 27.  It officially occurred though at 0100 EST, making the date November 28.


      The Storm Prediction Center

      NCDC Storm Events Database

      November 1988 Storm Data Publication

      NWS Raleigh Overview


      Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1285.

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