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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Multiple tornado warnings were issued in South Carolina Friday afternoon when powerful storms moved through the Carolinas.
A tornado warning was in effect for Catawba, Lincoln counties until 4:15 p.m. The remainder of the Charlotte area is under a tornado watch until 5 p.m.
Tornado warnings in Chester, Union and York counties in South Carolina were canceled by 2:45 p.m.
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.
Panovich said the worst of the weather started moving in around 1:30 and will last through about 6 o’clock Friday.
“The worst is moving in right now,” Panovich said. “Some storms in Union County I’ve noticed some rotation every once in a while. Same thing in western parts of Gaston and Cleveland counties. Not tight enough to be tornado warnings but ones I’m keeping an eye on.”
By 1 p.m., heavy rain was spotted in Burke County along I-40.
Panovich expects the worst weather — heavy rains, damaging winds and possible tornadoes — will last for at least a couple of hours.
“Damaging wind potential is very high and the flash flood threat is increasing in the mountains,” Panovich said.
The National Weather Service put areas east of Charlotte in the extreme category for probable wind damage, something that’s rarely seen in the Carolinas. And as Charlotteans know, trees in the Myers Park area fall during any storm, so gusty winds above 35 mph could be problematic and lead to damage and widespread power outages.
“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.”
The probability of wind damage in the Chalrotte area is significant Friday, especially in areas east of the city.
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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