Panovich: Strong thunderstorms will bring heavy downpours, risk of flooding to Carolinas

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte area will likely see heavy downpours and thunderstorms Tuesday evening with the chance of some storms being severe. 

Chief meteorologist Brad Panovich said the storms will bring the threat of flash flooding to the mountains and foothills, areas that have been hit particularly hard by excessive rainfall this month. Parts of the mountains are already under a flash flood watch, including Avery and Watauga counties.

“We had heavy rain yesterday, excessive rainfall yesterday and again today,” Panovich said. “There’s a 10 to 15 percent chance of seeing some flash flooding. In the Piedmont, it’s lower than that.”

Panovich said all of the ingredients are in place for thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon. Temperatures will be in the mid-80s, it’s incredibly muggy with dewpoints in the 70s and early sunshine will create instability in the atmosphere. 

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“The sun is out, so we’re getting things amped up,” Panovich said. “It’ll be warm and muggy with dewpoints near 70. That’s ridiculous humidity for this time of year to see that much moisture in place.”

The good news is Panovich doesn’t expect the storms to create tornadoes. There is a slight chance of damaging winds, but the primary threat will be flash flooding. He currently has the chance of damaging winds around 5-10%. 

Panovich expects the storm activity to get started around 3 p.m. in the mountains when a line of storms forms and makes its way east. 

“It doesn’t mean there won’t be isolated storms east,” Panovich said. “As it pushes east, we’re looking at 7, 8 and 9 o’clock. Pretty strong storms will be moving through the Piedmont between 6 and 9.

“Like last night, we’ll see these linger after midnight. Instability will build up all day and it takes a while for it to go away, even after sunset.”