County, state officials warn of potential for winds, hail, possible tornadoes in N.C. on Thursday

Eric Thomas Wednesday night forecast

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Local and state leaders urgently want residents to be prepared for the potential of damaging winds, large hail and possible tornadoes in Mecklenburg County and the entire state of North Carolina on Thursday.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office urges Mecklenburg County residents to prepare for the potential of severe weather.

The main threats to be aware of include damaging winds, large hail, and possible tornadoes.

Officials encourage all residents to have a plan in place, know how to receive warnings, and a place for shelter. It is important be weather aware and monitor local forecasts.

Governor Roy Cooper is also reminding North Carolinians to make sure their families are prepared for the severe weather threatening a large portion of the state over the next 24 hours.

“With severe weather expected tomorrow, people should prepare to monitor emergency alerts and review their family emergency plan,” Governor Cooper said. “Everyone should pay attention to the forecast and remember to follow all recommended actions from their local public safety officials.”

Preparing for storms on Thursday

The threat of severe weather is greatest along and southeast of the US 1 corridor; however, severe storms will be possible statewide tomorrow. Storms are likely to move into western North Carolina during the morning hours, and continue east across the state through the afternoon and evening. Some strong storms may continue overnight Thursday near the coast.

Damaging wind gusts in excess of 60 miles per hour and large hail of one to two inches in diameter are possible with these storms, as are the possibility of strong tornadoes. During a severe storm, the safest location at home or work is an interior room or closet away from windows.

Localized flooding is possible, particularly in southwestern counties Wednesday night through Friday and across areas where severe weather develops Thursday. Strong northerly winds could produce minor to moderate sound-side flooding across portions of the Outer Banks and areas adjacent to the Pamlico Sound and Neuse River on Friday and Saturday. Additional beach erosion and ocean overwash will also be possible along the northern Outer Banks.

Emergency officials recommend residents use the following safety tips to prepare for severe weather:

  • Know the terms: WATCH means a tornado is possible. WARNING means a tornado has been spotted; take shelter immediately.
  • Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room and away from windows and go there immediately if you hear or see a tornado.
  • If driving, you should leave your vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequate structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle, and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge.
  • If you are outdoors, and there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris.
  • Following a storm, wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves and gloves when walking on or near debris and be aware of exposed nails and broken glass.
  • Be aware of damaged power or gas lines and electrical systems that may cause fires, electrocution or explosions.

The State Emergency Operations Center will continue to monitor the situation along with its local partners and is activated and ready to support local response through its SERT partners to any weather impacts.

Families should identify a safe place to take cover in their homes in the event of a tornado warning. That should be an interior room on the home’s lowest level, away from doors or windows. Everyone in the family should know the plan, and be prepared to act on it if a tornado warning is issued for your area.

If Your Power Goes Out

  • Report your outage immediately to your local electric company. Don’t rely on your neighbors to report your outage.
  • Stay away from downed power lines, flooded areas and debris. Treat all fallen wires and anything touching them as though they are energized. Immediately report downed lines to your local electric company.
  • Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed. A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours.
  • Pack refrigerated items, such as milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
  • Follow safe operating procedures for generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • If using portable stoves, kerosene heaters, or lanterns, make sure that the area is sufficiently ventilated.

North Carolina and its State Emergency Response Team, along with local emergency management, are experts in responding to severe weather situations. Even as COVID-19 efforts are underway, the state is preparing for severe weather and encourages the public to do the same.

If you need additional preparedness information, please visit ReadyNC.org

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