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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Easter weekend will get off to a stormy start in the Charlotte area thanks to a large storm system that will bring the potential for severe weather Friday afternoon.
First Warn chief meteorologist Brad Panovich said the strongest threat remains damaging winds but he can’t rule out tornadoes during Friday’s event, particularly in areas east of I-77.
“It’s east of I-77 that really concerns me,” Panovich said. “The tornado threat has crept up into the medium range. These are not going to be isolated in little cells, they’re going to be embedded. They’re going to be fast-moving and they’re going to be hard to warn for.”
Two tornado warnings were issued just east of Greensboro around 9:30 Friday morning. Panovich expects a severe thunderstorm watch to be issued for the entire Charlotte area by lunchtime as the storms move in.
“When you get winds over 55 mph that can cause a lot of major problems,” First Warn forecaster Larry Sprinkle said. “Just because there’s no watch right now doesn’t mean we can’t see isolated spin-ups, those smaller tornadoes, this afternoon.”
Panovich said the threat for damaging winds in the Charlotte area, especially east of I-77, is in the extreme range and should be everyone’s top priority. As for tornadoes, the threat is about 10 percent, which Panovich said is extremely high.
“That means there’s a 10 percent chance of seeing a tornado within 25 miles of any point on the map in the red area,” he said.
The probability of wind damage in the Chalrotte area is significant Friday, especially in areas east of the city.
Sprinkle said the mountains and foothills will see the first rain with some scattered showers well before noon. Those storms will push east and reach Charlotte between noon and 2 p.m.
Panovich believes the time between 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. will be when Charlotte experiences the worst weather of the day.
“That two to three time frame seems to be the perfect time, or worst time, for the Charlotte area,” Panovich said. “The returns look a little better than yesterday, though.”
The Carolinas will be at risk for tornadoes during Friday’s storms, including an elevated threat east of Charlotte.
Sprinkle said some areas south and east of Charlotte could see up to 2 inches of rain, while nearly every area will receive at least a half-inch from the storms. The storms will move out of the Charlotte area Friday night.
Saturday will be cooler in the 60s while Easter Sunday will be a beautiful sunny day with afternoon highs in the mid-70s.
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