Early on May 11, 2017, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issued an enhanced risk for severe weather in central North Carolina and a moderate risk for severe weather in southeastern North Carolina. The SPC noted that the tornado risk was below average, but the hail risk "was perhaps the highest seen in recent years." A squall line developed near Winston-Salem, North Carolina around 6:30 PM EDT on May 11, and began moving eastward over the coming hours. At around 8:00 PM, the line crossed through Wake County and began producing heavy hail throughout the county.
While most hail events are somewhat localized, this hailstorm was unique in the fact that nearly all of Wake County saw at least pea-sized hail for a period of time. In southern Wake County, the hail was largest, where "grapefruit-sized hail was reported for a whole 5 minutes." The hail accumulated in areas, with the towns of Apex and Holly Springs receving nearly an inch of hail accumulation - resembling a blanket of snow. As a result of the hail, which damaged many structures, Wake County Public Schools closed on May 12.