Panovich: Devastating flooding across foothills, mountains; more rain to come

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Folks in the foothills and mountains are dealing with devastating flooding from heavy rainfall this weekend, and they’re not in the clear yet, according to First Warn Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich.

“Even in the Charlotte area, we’ve had some heavy rain, but it’s not been flooding yet. That could change though with any of these heavy downpours,” he said.


Here are the current warnings, advisories, and watches:

  • Flood warning: Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, and Watauga counties
  • Flood advisory: Ashe County
  • Flash flood watch: Most of Charlotte viewing area until 6 a.m. Monday

RELATED: Flood warning issued for Mountain Island Lake; neighbors prepare for worst

“A flood warning was issued for areas around Mountain Island Lake,” said Panovich. “All the water is coming downstream,” said Panovich.

Mountain Island Lake crested at 105.05 feet in 2004 and 109.60 feet in 1940.

The Catawba River at Lookout Shoals Dam set its 2nd highest crest on record Sunday at 108.19 feet. The record is nearly 80-years-old.

RELATED: Apartment complex in Catawba Co. forced to evacuate due to severe flooding

The city of Hickory said the fire department performed 12 water rescues since Friday. At least two water rescues were reported in Alexander County and one in Caldwell County.

“The flooding from Catawba, Burke, Caldwell and Alexander County’s is substantial. Over the last 48 hours an estimated 6-10″ of rain has fallen,” said Meteorologist Chris Mulcahy.

Damage reports include:

  • Road washed out on Rink Dam Rd. in Caldwell County
  • Ridge Crest Apartments in Hickory evacuated due to high water
  • Several roads closed in Banner Elk including Green Rd. and Dobbins Rd.
  • Multiple waterline breaks in Hickory

In Catawba County, the board of commissioners declared a state of emergency Sunday morning. A full list of road closures in that area can be found here.

Catwaba County Schools and Catawba County Community College canceled classes for Monday.

Caldwell County declared a state of emergency as well.

On Saturday night. Highway Patrol reported three people died in what appeared to be a weather-related accident in Lincoln County. 

It happened just before 8 p.m. on Highway 27 in the area of Rock Dam Road. Troopers said the car hydroplaned, hit a tree, and overturned in a creek. 

“The creek waters were higher than normal due to heavy rainfall over the past two days. Rescue efforts were greatly hindered by extremely heavy rainfall at the time,” said troopers.

The victims were identified as 52-year-old Loyde Neal of Lincolnton and 22-year-old Sebastian Fredell, both of Lincolnton, and 46-year-old Jacob Abernathy of Shelby.

The northwest Piedmont and Foothills were under an extreme flood risk Saturday night into Sunday morning as major flash flooding was reported in the northwest part of the Charlotte viewing area.

Panovich posted a map on social media of the affected counties. Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Lincoln, and Watauga counties were under flash flood warnings until 10 p.m. Saturday.

“Please avoid this area and stay off the roads in the area in green,” Panovich said. “Major flash flooding is occurring and numerous roads are impassible at this time. Do not drive into water, especially at night. The road might be gone.”

Everything is saturated because we’ve seen so much rain since Friday, especially in the mountains and foothills, which means additional flooding.

“If you’re driving over the next couple of days, please do not drive into standing water,” he said.

On Saturday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper warned residents in the western part of the state to pay attention to the forecast.

“I urge everyone to make safety their first priority, particularly in areas where constant rain has fallen the last couple of days,” he said.

On Friday night, flash flooding was reported north of Charlotte after nearly a month with no rain.

“If you live in a flood-prone area, make sure you have a way to get warnings,” said Panovich. “Flash flooding is very likely across the northwest Piedmont and Foothills.”

Catawba County Emergency Management tweeted the Hickory area was experiencing flash flooding Friday night.

“DO NOT drive across roads covered in water or that you cannot see the lines,” the tweet read. “Some roads are dangerous with cars taking on water.”

Mulcahy said parts of Catawba and Alexander counties saw 3-6 inches of rain on Friday while parts of Iredell County got 3-5 inches. Mecklenburg County got anywhere from .5 inch to almost 2 inches of rain.

The rain is expected to linger through the beginning of next week with heavy showers and thunderstorms. There’s also the potential for landslides.

Panovich said almost half of North Carolina and nearly 90% of South Carolina reported dry to moderate drought conditions as of Friday. June 7 marked 26 days between measurable rainfall in Charlotte, making it the 13th longest dry streak in the city’s history. 

So how much rain are we talking? The mountains could see anywhere up to 9 inches over the next week or so, while the Charlotte area could get anywhere from 3-6 inches.

“This (Saturday) evening and tonight (Saturday night) are probably when we’re going to see the worst rainfall,” Panovich said. “This is a really soggy pattern tonight (Saturday) into tomorrow (Sunday). That flood watch is in there for a good reason.”

flooding in Mountain View

Nathan Lang

Emergency officials released the following safety tips:

  • Move to higher ground when flash flood warnings are issued. Don’t wait for instructions
  • Never drive into flooded areas or across flooded roads. If you cannot see the road, it may not be there
  • Do not walk through moving water. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult
  • Follow detours and obey traffic barricades that close off roads
  • Never park or camp along streams, rivers or creeks