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Record rainfall closes schools, causes traffic delays

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

Heavy rain fell throughout the Charlotte region on Monday, breaking at least one precipitation record, sparking flash flood warnings, and generally making the morning commute a mess.

By 10 a.m. Monday, Charlotte had received 1.6 inches of rain, according to gauges at the airport, shattering the previous record for May 6, which was 1.08.

But it was wet all over the Piedmont and foothills. Gauges in Morganton recorded 7 inches of rain, after a series of storms settled over the Burke County city. Banner Elk and Newland had more than five inches of rain. Boone had 2.5 inches.

Emergency crews in Burke County had to rescue at least two people at the Rose Creek family campground who were trapped by rising water early Monday, according to a dispatcher.

Flash flood warnings were in effect for Watauga County. And flood warnings are in effect until midnight for several counties in the mountains and foothills: Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba and Cleveland in North Carolina and York County, S.C. Because of the potential for flooding, schools in Avery County are closed Monday. Schools in Watauga and Burke opened two hours late.

Charlotte was doused for most of Sunday and on Monday, the Charlotte area saw an uptick in rainfall intensity, in addition to winds over 40 mph within the strongest rain bands.

At one point early Monday, about a third of an inch of rain was falling every hour, said Jake Wimberley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Just after 6 a.m., Duke Energy reported more than 4,000 power outages in the Carolinas, including 806 in Mecklenburg and 863 in Cleveland County.

The rain added to a messy commute in uptown Charlotte.

Police were warning drivers away from a fallen tree on St. Julien Street near Independence Boulevard.

And officers had to clear up at least three wrecks in the center city. One was at Church Street and 11th street, near an exit from the Brookshire Freeway to uptown. A wreck was also reported on the ramp from Independence Boulevard to the Brookshire Freeway and at East 5th Street and Park Drive.

The rain is expected to let up late in the morning. An isolated thunderstorm is possible Monday afternoon. Temperatures will remain cooler than normal in the low to mid-60s with gusty winds.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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