NC rivers are surging with record-high water levels, and more rain is coming

CHARLOTTE, NC (Bruce Henderson/The Charlotte Observer) - Rivers across Western North Carolina on Wednesday surged with record-high water levels for the day as a flash flood warnings remained in effect through Thursday morning.

Remnants of the subtropical depression Alberto are expected to bring heavy rain through Wednesday night to mountain areas already saturated by two weeks of rain, the National Weather Service said. That will greatly heighten the risks of floods and landslides throughout the region, the service said.

More than six inches of rain fell overnight in parts of North Carolina's mountains, the weather service said. Another inch or two could fall Wednesday.

The Catawba River near Pleasant Gardens, near Marion, was at 14.4 feet, more than three feet above flood stage, U.S. Geological Survey data showed. The amount of water flowing down the river at that point was the largest since 2004, when back-to-back hurricanes drenched the mountains for two weeks.

The Catawba flows a few miles south of the privately-owned Lake Tahoma dam, which state officials say is in imminent danger of collapsing after damage by a landslide. Portions of the Johns River in Burke County and the Watauga River near Sugar Grove were also above flood stage.

Flooded streets were reported in Asheville. The French Broad River was at flood stage at two points south of the city, as was the Swannanoa River in Asheville's Biltmore neighborhood. Biltmore Avenue was closed to traffic, Asheville police tweeted Wednesday morning.

Flash flood warnings were in effect for central McDowell, Caldwell and Burke counties. Stream levels on the Johns River continued to rise, with more flooding expected. The weather service also warned of "significant danger" from the flooding Wilson Creek in Caldwell County.