Tropical Storm Michael Causes Downed Trees, Power Outages In Charlotte

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Updated: 3 p.m.

Tropical Storm Michael is moving northeast at about 23 mph, and the storm is on track exit the Carolinas and be on the Atlantic Ocean Thursday night. The National Weather Service says the storm is about 60 miles east-northeast of Charlotte.

But Charlotte region is still seeing the effects of the storm through gusty winds and rainfall. Michael’s maximum sustained wind speeds are 50 mph, with a few tropical-storm force gusts above 39 mph possible.

The powerful winds are bringing down trees in the Charlotte area. Mecklenburg Emergency Management Services said in a 3 p.m. tweet Thursday that it has received 57 calls related to downed trees so far. EMS says it’s receiving a “significantly higher” number of calls during this storm than it did during Florence.

Charlotte Area Transit System has suspended its Blue Line light rail services after two parts of the line were damaged by fallen trees.

North Carolina Department of Public Safety says there are 143,848 power outages across the state, as of 2:30 p.m. Duke Energy says 43,061 Mecklenburg County customers have experienced power outages as of 2:30 p.m.

Queens University in Charlotte also closed Thursday afternoon due to a power outage. The school has shut down for the rest of the day.

There is a Tropical Storm Warning in effect for Mecklenburg and its surrounding counties.

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Charlotte hasn’t gotten that much rain for the past couple of hours. But it’s starting to pick up again. I’m in Elizabeth Park just south of Uptown where the little Sugar Creek is rushing over a section of greenway. One of the walkways here looks like a waterfall. The real story right now is the wind. As I drove into Uptown just now from the south, on Providence Road, I ran into lots of heavy gusts, leaves and small limbs falling. We’re also hearing sirens right now as as emergency crews respond to calls around the city. That tropical storm warning remains in effect right now and we could get some more rain. But this could all be over in a few hours. #HurricaneMichael #clt #flooding #uptownclt Coverage on @wfae

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Oct 11, 2018 at 10:45am PDT

Updated: 12:50 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the state has been spared the worst of Hurricane Michael, which was downgraded to a tropical storm this morning. However, the governor says the storm is still a threat.

“For North Carolina, Michael isn’t as bad as Florence but it brings unwelcome insult to injury,” Cooper said.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety reports 16,990 power outages across the state. There are 45 school systems that are closed today, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as well as schools in Union, Anson and Rowan counties. UNC Charlotte has canceled class for the day. 

“North Carolina was spared the vicious beating Michael brought to Florida and parts of Georgia, but this storm will not go down without a fight,” Cooper said. “It is still a threat and should be taken seriously, particularly with storm surge, high winds, flooding and the threat of tornadoes.”

In the western part of the state, some temporary storm shelters have been opened and flash flooding has resulted in at least two water rescues. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety says there were 10 water rescues in Henderson County and 15 people were evacuated from homes because of flash flooding. One person was rescued from a car in McDowell County, and there was also a mudslide in McDowell County.

Jimmy Brissie, the Emergency Services Director of Henderson County, said flash flooding from Hurricane Michael affected the county over the night.

“We had fire and rescue squad personnel who have rescued about, approximately 10 people out of vehicles that had driven through high water, possibly driven around a barricade,” Brissie said. “Then there are two small communities where they evacuated residents out of their homes.”

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, in an appearance on Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins, said the city activated its Hurricane Team and is focusing on weather reports and how Michael might impact government and private business.

“So we’re working on helping people — or notifying the major businesses, the government offices that are downtown to say look at this and determine what’s best for your employees to make sure that they’re safe because the commute will be difficult,” Lyles said.

The Charlotte region is under a tropical storm warning until further notice and flash flood watch until midnight, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service says the region is expected to get 3-5 inches of rain. WCNC-TV meteorologist Brad Panovich says the bad weather won’t last as long as previous storms.

“It’s going to move out almost as quickly as it moved in. So, this is not going to be a long event unlike Florence and Matthew in year’s past that lingered for days and really soaked the state. This will be a 6 to 12-hour window of really bad weather and then it’s going to move out quickly,” said Panovich.

Panovich says heavy rain and winds will be at their heaviest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m and warns there’s potential for flash flooding. He says sustained winds will be around 20 to 30 miles per hour, and gusts could reach 40 miles per hour – knocking down trees and causing power outages.

Panovich says the storm should move out of the area around 5 p.m. as it heads east toward the Raleigh and Piedmont area of the state.