Severe storm topples trees onto Charlotte homes and power lines Friday

Severe storm topples trees onto Charlotte homes and power lines Friday
Severe storm topples trees onto Charlotte homes and power lines Friday (Source: Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Charlotte Observer) - A severe storm toppled trees onto homes and power lines in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood Friday as Mecklenburg and surrounding counties remained under a threat of possible tornadoes and flooding into the night.

Duke Energy reported 64,600 Mecklenburg County customers without power at 5:30 p.m.

Ten giant willow oaks fell onto East 5th Street between Laurel Avenue and Osborne Avenue, according to Donna Bise, who has lived on East 5th Street for 40 years. Seven homes were damaged, she said, while hers was spared.

Severe storm topples trees onto Charlotte homes and power lines Friday
Severe storm topples trees onto Charlotte homes and power lines Friday (Source: Charlotte Observer)

“We had a tornado warning,” Bise told The Charlotte Observer. “ The winds were swirling right down the street, and everybody took to the center of their homes. It was fast, and it was furious.”

A 100-year-old giant oak totaled neighbor Maria Cohen’s Dodge Caravan — “like a pancake,” she said. The tree also claimed some of the roof above the front porch of her and her husband, Arthur. They’ve lived there 14 years.

Cohen said she received the tornado warning on her phone but still went outside to check what was happening. “Then I heard the tree start to uproot from the ground, and I immediately went inside to the back of the basement.”

She didn’t budge for 15 minutes, until someone kept banging on the door and asking if she was OK.

The storm struck just after 4:30 p.m. A tornado warning issued for Charlotte expired at about that time.

The storm was among a line of severe thunderstorms barreling into Mecklenburg and surrounding counties from the west.

The storms could pack “damaging gusts (up) to 60 mph” along with heavy rainfall, NWS meteorologists warned in alerts Friday morning.

Mountain Island Lake residents in particular should stay alert to possible flooding, as levels of the Catawba River and its lakes are already high due to this week’s rains, according to one NWS alert.

Charlotte was under the tornado warning with Belmont in eastern Gaston County. A warning means radar indicated a possible tornado or an NWS spotter saw one.

Mecklenburg and surrounding counties also were under a severe thunderstorm watch until 8 p.m.

Storms moved into the Charlotte region at about 3:30 p.m.

The storms started in Tennessee and Alabama Friday morning, NWS meteorologist Jake Wimberley told The Charlotte Observer.

Hail and heavy downpours accompanied the systems, according to the NWS.

No injuries were reported.

“So NC wants to go to Phase 2 at 5pm??? MOTHER NATURE,” former Charlotte City Council member LaWana Mayfield tweeted Friday afternoon with a photo of a downpour. That when phase 2 of Gov. Roy Cooper’s reopening of the state begins.

About 40 riverside families at Mountain Island Lake sued Duke Energy recently, accusing the company of mishandling a June 2019 flood, The Observer reported.

At least a foot of rain fell in some parts of the Catawba basin over three days, and on June 9, Duke released the largest amount of water ever from Lake Norman, the Observer reported.

Duke Energy manages the Catawba River basin lakes under federal license.

The combination released an up-to-8-foot surge into more than 100 homes in northwest Charlotte, many of them on Riverside Drive along Mountain Island Lake, according to the lawsuit. The flooding caused millions in damages, residents said in the lawsuit.

A Duke spokeswoman said at the time of the lawsuit filing that the company “stands by the operational decisions made in June 2019 and will vigorously defend itself against the allegations in the lawsuit.”