Charlotte region cleaning up after severe storms topple trees, - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte region cleaning up after severe storms topple trees, power lines

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The wind snapped this tree on York Street in Gastonia damaging two homes. (Photo courtesy Thomas Stocker) The wind snapped this tree on York Street in Gastonia damaging two homes. (Photo courtesy Thomas Stocker)
Power lines fell across I-485 near Pineville closing the interstate for hours. Power lines fell across I-485 near Pineville closing the interstate for hours.
A tree demolished a house on Ross Cannon Street in York, SC. (Photo courtesy Trent Faris) A tree demolished a house on Ross Cannon Street in York, SC. (Photo courtesy Trent Faris)
The wind snapped a giant oak tree on Oaklawn Avenue in front of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. (Photo courtesy of Trent Faris) The wind snapped a giant oak tree on Oaklawn Avenue in front of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. (Photo courtesy of Trent Faris)
The wind ripped off the tin roof at Zootastic Park in Troutman. (Photo courtesy of Jerod Brown) The wind ripped off the tin roof at Zootastic Park in Troutman. (Photo courtesy of Jerod Brown)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A line of severe thunderstorms moved across the Charlotte region early Tuesday morning leaving behind downed power lines, damaged homes and blocked roads.

At the peak of the storm at 4 a.m., more than 256,000 Duke Energy customers were without power. Duke Energy says 60 to 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts uprooted large trees and brought down power lines.

As of 4:30 p.m., Duke Energy's website said there were still about 180,000 outages systemwide. The counties in the WBTV coverage area with the highest number of outages include: Cabarrus (1,314), Catawba (5,416), Cleveland (8,271), Gaston (17,375), Lincoln (6,115), Mecklenburg (43,840), Rowan (12,511) and York (6,802).

About 300 additional Duke Energy workers are traveling from the Midwest area to assist with restoring power throughout the company's coverage area in the Carolinas.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF-1 Tornado with maximum winds of 100 mph touched down in Surry County which is located approximately 124 miles north of Charlotte. The tornado remained on the ground for nearly 3 miles causing $560,000 worth of damage to as many as 40 homes.

The NWS, however, does not plan to do any storm surveys for tornadic damage in the WBTV coverage area.

"All damage in our area appears to be consistent with straight-line winds," said WBTV Meteorologist Kelly Franson.

Storms disrupts traffic, causes wrecks

The biggest problem in the Charlotte metro occurred on I-485 near Pineville which resulted in the interstate being closed for 10 hours.

The strong winds knocked down a huge power pole which fell on Highway 51 just before 3 a.m. As a result, power lines fell across all lanes of I-485 near exit 64 for Pineville-Matthews Road (N.C. Highway 51). 

The NCDOT closed I-485 in both directions from N.C. 51 (Exit 64) to Johnston Road (Exit 61) to allow utility crews to upright downed poles and power lines. The road re-opened around 1 p.m., but Highway 51 is not expected to be completely reopened until Tuesday at midnight. Read more about the closure of I-485.

In Mecklenburg County, MEDIC responded to 20 wrecks between 2:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., but most of the accidents were for minor injuries only. Usually, MEDIC responds to about 24 wrecks within a 24-hour period.

"Inoperable traffic lights caused by power outages, debris in roadways and wet conditions are contributing to this morning's increase in accidents," said MEDIC spokesman Jeff Keith.

Damage reported throughout region

A tornado warning was first issued for Burke County around midnight, but the National Weather Service canceled the warning at 1 a.m.

Barbara Wilkinson lives in Maiden and she says the storm sounded like a freight train when it passed through her neighborhoood around 1:30 a.m. The storm took down trees and roof were torn off, she said.

In Gaston County, Mike Bonisa said a tree came crashing down on his Belmont home, but luckily, no one was hurt. Theresa Gibson also lives in Belmont at 404 Oakland Avenue. She said a tree fell on her house and caused extensive damage. In Gastonia, a giant oak fell on York Street in between two homes causing damage to both.

In the town of Dallas, WBTV News Producer Bari Lanning said her neighbor's trampoline went airborne during the storm and blew across the street before landing in another neighbor's yard.

Bobby Leatherman lives on Highway 150 West near Lincolnton. He said the storm snapped two of his neighbor's trees and pushed his DJ trailer into the woods. Click to read more.

Severe thunderstorms were also reported in Shelby, Kings Mountain and Hickory before moving east toward the Charlotte-metro area around 2 a.m.

When the storm moved into Mecklenburg County, MEDIC was flooded with more than 120 fire and emergency medical calls within a 60-minute time frame.

In west Charlotte, a family of five was trapped inside their Ashton Lane home after a large tree fell. The family had to climb out of the bedroom window to get out of the home. 

According to the American Red Cross, four families in Mecklenburg County and one Lincolnton family were temporarily displaced from their homes due to wind damage and fallen trees.

"Red Cross volunteers are working with the families to provide assistance for their disaster-caused needs," said American Red Cross spokeswoman Kate Meier.

The strong winds also caused havoc for set-up and preparations underway for the opening of the Food Lion AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Cabarrus County.

"We've got several large tents, temporary fencing, port-a-johns and trash receptacles blown over or scattered around the property," said CMS spokesman Scott Cooper. "Party Time Rentals should be on site today repairing and resetting several tents in preparation for the car show."

A fire destroyed Corriher Heights Baptist Church at the corner of Crescent Street and Highway 153 in Rowan County. Neighbors reported seeing a flash of lightning followed by a loud explosion before the church started burning. Officials are trying to determine if the fire was caused by a lightning strike. Read more about this story.

In Iredell County, Jerod Brown said there was extensive damage caused by downed trees at  Zootastic Park in Troutman. The wind also ripped off the tin roof from the several buildings located on the property. Sheets of metal could be seen dangling in nearby trees.

In South Carolina, Lancaster County Fire Marshal Stephen Blackwelder said there was no major damage reported there, but lots of limbs were on the ground. None of trees appeared to have fallen on homes. Blackwelder said there were traffic back ups in Indian Land at Highways 160 and 521 as of 8:30 a.m.

At Winthrop University, the wind snapped a tree on Oakland Avenue in Rock Hill. Power lines were down on Highway 321 in York.

Schools impacted by storms

Charlotte Mecklenburg School officials said 30 schools were without power Tuesday morning, but all of the schools had running water. No schools were canceled or delayed.

Seven schools were without power for the entire day. As of 3:45 p.m., power had not been restored to Berryhill, Oaklawn, Plaza Road, River Gate, Piedmont, Waddell and Leadership Academy.

Due to power outages and storm debris, classes were canceled for Clover School District, Gaston Day School, and Rowan-Salisbury School District.

All schools in Catawba County operated on a normal schedule, but classes were dismissed at 11 a.m. for Maiden Middle and Maiden High Schools due to power outages.

Elsewhere, schools operated on a delayed schedule including Charlotte School of Law, Iredell Statesville Schools, Lincoln Charter School, Queen's Grant School, Rutherford County Schools and Southview Christian Academy.

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