30 Years Later: Advances Since Deadly 1984 ENC Tornadoes

Friday is the 30th anniversary of the largest and most devastating tornado outbreak to hit the Carolinas.

A total of 42 people died in North Carolina as the storm moved from county to county that night back on March 28, 1984.

Many residents were caught off guard, due to the lack of technology to communicate.

The night the tornadoes ripped a path through Eastern Carolina is one Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks will never forget. As a patrol deputy and first responder back then, he says there wasn't high tech equipment to track a tornado.

Sheriff Elks says, "The only thing that alerted me that there was a tornado, the Simpson Fire Chief Mr. Hyman Boyd had a hand held radio, it had very little range to it and I heard him in the house through the scanner saying, "I'm on the ground and the house is on top of me."

WITN Chief Meteorologist Marvin Daugherty says tracking the path of the storm also prevented warnings. He says, "Of course Doppler radar didn't come into our area until the early or mid '90s and that was true for much of the country. In our area we were one of the first to have the Doppler radar in the Newport area."

The National Weather Service in Newport in Carteret County opened in the 1990s with better tracking capabilities for storms, not to mention vast improvements made over the past 20 years with the use computers and cell phones.

NWS Meteorologist Carin Gosnell says, "We're using social media more and more to get our reports and to also get our information out to the public."

Six people lost their lives in Snow Hill in Greene County, two in Ayden, one in Winterville, and six on the east side of Greenville. Friday on WITN News at 6:00 we'll speak to survivors of that storm.