Remembering March 28, 1984

By: Jamie Arnold
By: Jamie Arnold

Share your stories of that dreadful tornado outbreak.

Friday will mark the 24th anniversary of the March 28th, 1984 tornado outbreak.  To date, this outbreak remains the deadliest and most violent in our states history, and even ranks as one of the more violent outbreaks of tornadoes that our country has ever seen.

Several violent tornadoes ripped through the heart of Eastern Carolina on that dreadfully stormy evening.  Hardest hit areas were around Mount Olive, Winterville, Snow Hill, Greenville, and Simpson.  In all, 57 deaths were reported in both NC and SC. 

Wind speeds reached as high as 180 mph with the tornado that devastated parts of Wayne, Greene and Pitt Counties.

I would like for you to share your stories of that day.  Were you affected?  How did you survive?  Did you see the tornado?

Leave those stories right here on the blog.  It will be a place we can all remember one of the most violent days in the Eastern NC's weather history.





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  • by Jennifer Location: Laurinburg on Mar 3, 2011 at 06:27 PM
    I remember it so clear. We had just sat down to eat supper my dad looked outside and heard what sounded like a train. He got us all up and made us go to the smallest bedroom. We didn't know at the time what was happening. Of course after what seemed like 15-20 minutes we go out and see all the destruction. Little did we know what we saw was nothing compared to what had happened in the next town, McColl, SC. After hours of my dad trying to get in touch with his sister by phone (you couldn't travel the roads because of trees down)he finds out that his sister and nephew had been killed in the tornado. Thank God his 2 week old nephew survived. I will never forget seeing my daddy drop to his knees when he got the call. The storm changed us and the community forever. It has taken a long time not to get upset when I hear of bad storms in our area. My dad will never be the same. I only pray that we never go through anything like that again.
  • by Susan Location: Conover on Apr 16, 2010 at 03:33 PM
    I remember the day vividly ... the first short-sleeve weather day of 1984. I was living in McColl and working in Bennettsville, SC; my family lived in Laurinburg, NC. While watching the weather on WRAL out of Raleigh, my power went out at 6:50 p.m. Not one word from the weather guy about possible storms or tornadoes! Immediately after the power went off, the water was actually sucked out of the toilets! Drop in barometric pressure, I guess. After the storms had passed, the skies opened up and there were millions of bright stars shining. Myself and kids survived the evening, but I lost an aunt due to a heart attack during the storm, and my babysitter's daughter was killed when her home was destroyed. Because every route out of McColl was blocked by either fallen trees, rooftops, or mobile homes, it took me 3 hours to travel 3 miles to check on my family. I followed an ambulance that was cutting and removing trees in the road as they traveled to pick up a victim from the storm.
  • by josh Location: alaska on Dec 21, 2009 at 04:05 AM
    I was born that same day, maybe that's why it happened. God was marking my coming into this would.
  • by Steve Location: New Jersey on Nov 22, 2009 at 07:03 PM
    I was attending Newberry College at the time at an apartment off campus. At approximately 5:30 me and a friend just ordered a pizza from the pizza hut. Not long after it began to hail. The hail soon became the size of baseballs. We had the apartment door open and when your 21 you are not afraid of anything. I picked up some hail near the door and put it in the freezer. After a few more minutes passed we closed the door as we realized the storm was increasing in magnitude. The path of the Tornado missed our apartment by a couple hundred yards. I remember power transformers exploding and a high tension tower collapsing near the apartment. I can also recall the collapsed roof of the auto parts store. At the time I did not realize how lucky we were. Our apartment would have crumpled in the path of that tornado. Needless to say that pizza was never delivered. Most everyone went home over that weekend. Being from NJ I stayed in Newberry and ate hot dogs from a portable grill.
  • by Powell Location: Newberry,SC on Mar 27, 2009 at 11:02 AM
    The Carolinas Outbreak started in Northwestern SC on the Greenwood / Newberry county line. UH-OH, that's where I live now. That day in 1984 I was going to go to Newberry and take pictures. I am glad I did not. I would likely tried to take pictures and I was not as knowlegeable about storm safety as I am now. I work at WKDK in Newberry, SC and am worried about Saturday. Powell
  • by Chasity Location: Greene County on Dec 1, 2008 at 04:21 PM
    What a night. I was five years old and dont remember some things. My life was almost lost on that night. I was almost asleep when my mother called me to get under her and my dads bed. Once I got under that was it. My family lost everything almost including their 5 yr old little girl. I now live with a scar on my neck and back. The one on my neck no doctor could tell my family what had happen the scar on my back was the result of a 2X4 with a nail. The nail went in my back. The doctors told my parents that if it was a hair line longer I would have been paralized for the rest of my life. I try to forget this day but, I now have a 7 yr old that has found intrest in the topic of tornadoes. Boy do I have a big story to share with him. God was with us that night and how anyone survived I will never know. May God bless everyone and I hope no one will ever have to encounter what the people of NC did that night of March 28,1984. Chasity B Whittington
  • by Robert Location: Grimesland on May 21, 2008 at 06:45 PM
    I've never seen anything so devastating.We lost all our personal things and my Wife now. almost lost her life.. I came home with a friend to find a place where it made me stone cold...We had to stop on hyw. 43 s. to an amazing sky and pine limbs on the road .. when there were no pines around!!!!!!! I walked though the mud and smells of propane to find my lady who I knew must be hurt. I yelled and yelled. I finally heard her call back..She had a completely (both bones) leg and arm and there was a little girl... who was our next door neighbor. her mom Pam Price was killed We were in Roberson's Trailer park.
  • by Jeffrey Location: Bladen county,NC on May 13, 2008 at 01:42 PM
    March 28,1984 was the most significant weather day of my life.Although I did not experience any of the tornadoes directly,I was near the devastastion that took place along the Bladen/cumberland line. I will never forget the 80 degree afternoon that was followed by an unusual display of lightning between 7:30-9:00pm in my general area.After receiving word of a tornado in the Cedar Creek and Beaver Dam communities that evening,my family and I proceeded to the area above White Oak. We were met by the rescue personnel while enroute to the stricken area,only to be cut off by a road block.So we returned the following afternoon.....the destruction was almost complete.Houses were swept from their foundations,automobiles were blown great distances and crushed,and a huge forest was now flattened. I personally know some of the victims of the Carolinas outbreak,even some who lost family members that night. There were 22 tornadoes that swept a 307 mile path across the two states that day.
  • by John Gibson Location: Eastern Wayne County, NC on May 9, 2008 at 02:30 PM
    I was just 4 years old, but the sounds that night, and the scenes of the next day will never leave my mind. My Aunt Bee owned a resthome near the middle Wayne/Lenoir county line. My grandmother thought it would be a good idea to go there when she heard the weather radio sound off. It was dark outside, but the lightning was so intense that it lit the sky as if the sun was shining on the clearest day. Strikes so numerous that the thunder seemed to roar forever. You could hear things hitting the walls of the home, trees snapping all around, sounding like fresh crisp carrots. I was so scared. At daybreak we ventured out to see the damage. Homes that were just yards away, destroyed, nothing left. Imagine this,about 40 yards off the left side of the road is an empty space where a 2story house once stood hours before, and 20 yards off the right side of the road is half of the garage that was once part of that beautiful home, and theres a 10-speed bicycle in there still on its kickstand. WOW!!
  • by Mikayla Whaley Location: 1 mile north of Mount Olive NC on May 9, 2008 at 08:33 AM
    I recall I worked that afternoon and it had reached about 81 degrees, that evening I traveled to Goldsboro to put a deposit on a dog, before returning home I drove to center street Mount olive, just 10 minutes before the tornado struck. I returned home and less than 5 minute the power went out, there were strong winds, and I may have heard the tornado just a few miles away, it was dark, so there was nothing to see from my home at the time. The next morning the temp had dropped to 47 degrees and it was raining. I went out the following day with 35mm camera and took many Pictures on the damage, esp. high damage occurred on the Duplin/Wayne county line on Highway 117, homes destroyed, cars and trailers overturned, even tin roofing wrapped arounf the remaining trunks of pine trees. weeks later I found damage in the Cliffs of the Nuese Park about 15 miles from that location, it was unclear if that was tornadic activity or outflow. I live near Asheville now, but still watch the skies closely
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