During the evening of Thursday, May 7th, thunderstorms developed over southeast North Carolina. The storms intensified around midnight and quickly became severe producing large hail and a small tornado in the northern sections of Wilmington. The combination of a favorable wind shear profile, unstable air and the approach of a warm front helped the storms to become severe. The tornado first touched down north of the Wrightsboro community, about a mile north of the weather office. The tornado lifted off the ground while the storm dropped two inch hail near Murraysville and touched down again near the Gordon Woods subdivision. Most of the damage was limited to downed trees but some minor structural damage did occur to a few buildings.
The reflectivity image below is from the Wilmington doppler radar at 11:40 PM 5/7/98. A severe thunderstorm was over the northern part of New Hanover county at this time, just south of Castle Hayne. This is the storm that produced the tornado. Below the reflectivity image is a velocity image from the Wilmington doppler radar at 11:40 PM. The arrow indicates where rotation was identified. The area shaded in red indicates radar estimates of wind movement away from the radar while the blue area immediately to the north indicates wind movement toward the radar.