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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The First Warn Storm Team is tracking a strong storm moving through the Carolinas. At 11:45 p.m., Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln and Mecklenburg Counties were put on a tornado watch until 12:15 a.m.
Meteorologist Chris Mulcahy said the storm could bring small hail with it.
Around 10:20 p.m., several parts of the Carolinas — including Charlotte, Hickory, Shelby, Greensboro and Chester — were placed on a tornado watch until 5 a.m. Monday.
This particular watch is a big one. It extends from the foothills all the way to Raleigh but doesn’t include the mountains as the line has already moved through. As the line moves through the east, Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich counties will be lifted from the watch.
Panovich said damaging winds are looking to be the primary concern with this line of strong storms, but spin-ups that could produce a quick tornado are not out of the question.
The line of storms is expected to hit the Charlotte area around midnight, moving to the Albemarle area by 1 a.m. and beyond. Panovich said the line of storms is pushing to the east pretty quickly, and a cold front is behind the system.
According to Panovich, it won’t take much to bring some trees or power lines down. Be weather aware through about 1 or 2 a.m.
Once the line of storms moves through, the severe threat will be done, Panovich said.
Just after 8 p.m., the original tornado watch expired for the Charlotte area, but the First Warn Storm Team is keeping an eye on the cold front to the west for gusty thunderstorms.
A severe thunderstorm watch still remains until 10 p.m. for the mountains. There is still a chance for rain and thunderstorms through Sunday evening.
At 7 p.m., Brad Panovich said it was too early to consider Charlotte in the clear. While the Queen City hasn’t been impacted by heavy rain as the storms move through the Carolinas, an impact was still possible.
There’s a front in the West moving through, which Panovich says will determine how hard the Charlotte area will get hit. Even without thunderstorms, high winds are possible for the region.
There have been multiple reports of downed trees, even knocking out power for several, throughout the Carolinas as a result of severe weather.
A tornado warning was issued for Floyd and Patrick until 6:15 p.m. — that has since expired. A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Chesterfield County until 6:30 p.m. which has since expired.
A tornado warning was issued for Lancaster, Chesterfield and Kershaw counties until 5:30 p.m. and has since expired. A tornado warning was in place for parts of Chesterfield, Kershaw and Lee counties until 5:45 p.m. It has since expired.
A tornado warning was issued for Alexander and Caldwell counties until 4:45 p.m; it has since expired.
Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Rutherford and Stanly counties are all under a tornado watch until 8 p.m.
A strong storm moved through Burke County causing the National Weather Service to issue a tornado warning that expired at 4 p.m. There were several reports of trees down along with power lines in Morganton.
A tornado warning had been issued for Rutherford County until 3:45 p.m., with a storm Panovich said was moving close to 50 mph. The warning has since ended.
Along with a lot of wind energy and instability in the atmosphere Sunday, West Virginia mountains and possibly even North Carolina mountains could be getting snow.
Panovich said in the event of tornado warnings in your area, seek shelter and make plans in advance if your home does not have a secured shelter.
Strong winds coupled with wet grounds sent a tree toppling over onto an RV in a Burke County neighborhood just west of Morganton.
The owner of the RV told NBC Charlotte, “Just a huge gust came, and when it did, the tree came down. There wasn’t any other noise other than just an unbelievable ‘womp’ when it hit the ground.”
Across Burke County, power lines snapped from falling trees on West Fleming Drive in Morganton, which blocked part of the street.
In Mecklenburg County, a tree off Milburn Court in West Charlotte fell from a neighbor’s yard onto the roof of the home next door. The homeowners told NBC Charlotte they were not home at the time when the tree fell, and everyone was safe.
Across town on Summey Avenue in East Charlotte, a large tree broke off and covered the street, bringing the power lines down with it.
“The wind blowed, and the next thing I heard — something popped,” said Harry Lainis, who lives nearby.
The Duke Energy outage map showed more than 150 people were left without power in the area. Crews were on the scene late into the night working to remove the tree and restore power. Neighbors who live close to the tree are calling the damage a best-case scenario.
“No one was hurt,” said Mark Stressman, a resident. “The vehicle it was parked by wasn’t damaged, and you know, at the end of the day, you just, you clean it up and you move on.”
Panovich said those rotating storms don’t always bring tornadoes, although that is a serious threat. The storms could always bring hail, heavy rain and damaging winds to the Charlotte area.
The good news is the weekend won’t be a total washout. Panovich said the showers will be off and on throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. Any all-day events outside will be impacted, though.
“If you have outdoor plans, the best thing I can tell you at this stage is you’ve got to have a plan,” Panovich said. “If you’ve got an activity where you can wait out a 15 or 20-minute shower, and then get back out, you’re fine.”
Some areas around Charlotte could see more than 2 inches of rain, while Sprinkle expects the Queen City to get around an inch-and-a-half.
By Sunday evening rainfalls totals could be:
- .85 Hickory
- 1.03 Gastonia
- 1.45 Charlotte
- 1.92 Concord
- 1.94 Wadesboro
- 2.45 Albemarle
Less than two weeks into the month and Charlotte’s already seen a little bit of everything from Mother Nature. On April 1, the first measurable snow fell in Charlotte since 1982. That quickly gave way to spring-like temperatures and an explosion of pollen in the Carolinas.
Some people even called it the “pollen apocalypse.” Scott says there’s good news, though. We’re on the downward trend of the pollen season, so if you’re suffering from springtime allergies, try to hang in there for a few more weeks.