Severe line of storms hits the Carolinas - | WBTV Charlotte

Severe line of storms hits the Carolinas


A strong line of severe weather moved into the Charlotte region Wednesday, bringing heavy flooding and strong winds.

WBTV meteorologists started warning viewers about the severe storm system earlier in the week. By Tuesday, emergency management officials around the area were sending out updates – asking people to be prepared for the coming weather.

In the early morning hours Wednesday, the storm moved through states west of North Carolina. 

It wasn't long before damage reports started to roll into the WBTV Newsroom.  Wednesday morning, people in Burke County were reporting trees down. In Gaston County, power lines were down from the high winds.

Throughout the day, several watches and warnings were issued for various parts of the viewing area.

The greatest severe weather threat began moving from west to east across the region. It started in the mountains shortly after lunchtime and was expected to end east of Charlotte.

The Charlotte-Douglas International Airport saw delays ranging from an hour and a half to more than 2.5 hours.  The delays were being caused by thunderstorms and low ceilings from the weather.

Early Wednesday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a Tornado Watch for parts of North and South Carolina. The Tornado Watch was extended later in the afternoon. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued, with Doppler Radar indicating possible damaging winds up to 60 miles per hour.

"Isolated tornadoes are a very real possibility, the wind shear and energy with this system is incredible, as there's a 100 mile per hour jet stream just above our heads," WBTV Meteorologist Al Conklin said.

"Some of that energy will likely be brought down to the surface in strong storms today, but if we don't break the clouds much, it may be difficult for the full potential to be reached."

The mountains were under a flood watch, expecting 2-3 inches of rain. WBTV started to receive reports of flooding in Watauga County at about 5:30 p.m. Students at Appalachian State reported rising waters at the school and near the Boone Mall.

Shortly thereafter, Appalachian State officials announced on the school website and through robo-calls it was canceling all Wednesday night classes and activities due to rain. Students were notified to move their cars from certain parking lots.

Within an hour of the first flooding call in Watauga County, Emergency Management officials reported several water rescues in progress, with numerous roads closed, and widespread flash flooding.

Not long after the University made that decision, Emergency Management Officials said there was flash flooding in the creeks and streams. Viewers said the bridge over the Watauga River on Dewitt Barnett Road was under water.

WBTV has several former interns at ASU. They said cars were floating, student apartments were under mudslide warnings, and the park in front of campus was completely underwater.

The danger in Watauga County didn't pass right away. Several hours later, crews were still performing water rescues, and officials said the flash flooding was ongoing.

Watauga County officials said they were preparing for more flooding, snow, and continuing high winds. They are encouraging all citizens to get to a safe location immediately. The Red Cross opened two shelters for residents who needed a place to go.

Officials said close to 100 people came to the shelters seeking help. The shelters are located at Blowing Rock Assembly Grounds in Blowing Rock and Hospitality House in Boone.

About an hour after the first report from Boone, the York County Sheriff's Office reported debris flying along I-77 near Mount Holly Road. Trees were also down on Garvin Road, and along Highway 49. York County Emergency crews were working in the field to contain the damage.

A mudslide was also reported near the entrance to the Tweetsie Railroad.

Several reports of flooded roads were reported in Avery County just after 6:30 p.m. on Mullen Hill Road, Highway 105 and Highway 181. That's about the same time Emergency Management officials in Boone called for people to find a safe place.

In Lincolnton, a house caught fire from winds blowing down power lines.

And in Charlotte, early signs of the storm showed in the Plaza-Midwood area when the wind helped knock down some trees.

Less than two hours after the first call came in from Watauga County, WBTV heard from Caldwell County. It took more than 90 minutes for officials to clear a mudslide at Highway 321 and the Catawba River Bridge. But by 9 p.m., Johns River Road was still flooded. Officials reported both bridges crossing the Johns River were underwater and impassable.

Officials said rain gauges on Wilsons Creek indicated 3.78 inches of rain had fallen in that area and Wilson's Creek is at flood stage. Roads are reported underwater near Edgement Baptist Church.

Caldwell County also reported extensive flooding in the Globe area on the far northwestern corner of the county.

Just before 9 p.m. the storm made itself known in Concord and Harrisburg. Viewers say road reflectors were washed away on main roads, and there's heavy wind and some rain were pounding the area.

At the same time, Duke Energy reported nearly 9,000 outages with a heavy concentration in the Northlake area

Throughout the day, the wind whipped in Charlotte and across the Carolinas, but temperatures hit 77 degrees. That's just one degree shy of the record set in 2002.

Wind damage could continue through Thursday morning.

Click here to track severe weather moving through your area.

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