Chapel Hill man dies as storm-driven winds fell tree

A man died outside his home in the Durham County portion of Chapel Hill on Wednesday night when a tree fell on him during a storm that brought heavy rain and winds topping 60 mph to the area, police said.

William Randolph Morris, 55, who lived in the house at 106 Roper Lane in the Colony Woods subdivision off Ephesus Church Road, was pronounced dead at the scene, Lt. Kevin Gunter, a police spokesman, said.

Police were called about 6:45 p.m., Gunter said.

National Weather Service radar showed an intense line of rain moved from Orange County through Durham and Raleigh between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Weather instruments at Horace Williams Airport a few miles away had registered 30 mph winds and a 48 mph gust, the day’s highest there, just before 6:30 p.m. and a 36 mph gust about five minutes before police were called, records show.

About 8:15 p.m., a weather observer north of Carrboro recorded a 62 mph gust of wind, the weather service said.

The storms were part of a cold front that dropped overnight temperatures into the mid-30s and will hold them in the low to mid-40s Thursday.

Friday morning could see readings in the upper 20s, but should warm up into the high 50s by afternoon. The current forecast has high temperatures in the upper 60s on Saturday.