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Powerful storms move through Mecklenburg County

Strong thunderstorms bulled their way across the Charlotte region Monday afternoon, leaving scattered reports of downed trees and power lines.

Forecasters say the storms will move through the area quickly, however, with sunshine returning in time for the evening commute.

However, they add, the sunshine could destabilize the atmosphere and allow another round of strong storms to affect the area later tonight.

Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued at mid-afternoon for many counties in the Charlotte region. Those same storms were reponsible for widespread reports of downed trees and power lines earlier Monday afternoon in the Greenville-Spartanburg area. Police radio reports indicated several calls in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties about tree limbs and power outages.

There were a number of reports of very heavy rain falling in the storms.

Just before 3:30 p.m., lightning reportedly struck a house on Verese Court in northwest Charlotte, according to Charlotte Fire Department Spokesman Mark Basnight. No one was injured and firefighters say the home did not catch fire.

A tornado watch was in effect from Charlotte eastward, but that watch likely will be discontinued once the storms move east of Charlotte. A flash flood watch remains posted until 6 p.m.

Additional severe thunderstorm and tornado watches are in effect for Tennessee, for a low pressure system that is expected to cross the Charlotte region late tonight and early Tuesday.

Justin Lane, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., said meteorologists are not sure how far east the storms will move tonight before they weaken and dissipate. He said the amount of sunshine that returns this afternoon and evening will play a large role in determining whether the storms are able to reach the Charlotte region.

The storms that pushed into Charlotte at mid-afternoon caused widespread damage in the Greenville-Spartanburg area around 1 p.m. There was even a report of a funnel cloud near Simpsonville, S.C., although there was no indication of a tornado on the ground.

In addition, strong thunderstorms were reported in parts of Burke and Caldwell counties at 2:30 p.m.

All of this comes on top of heavy rain that hit eastern Mecklenburg County around daybreak Monday -- and drenching downpours that caused flash flooding Sunday evening in Burke and Caldwell counties northwest of Charlotte.

Many parts of the Charlotte region have received more than 5 inches of rain in the past week. The ground is very damp, and the stage is set for flooding, forecasters say.

A flood advisory was issued around 6 a.m. Monday for the Matthews-Mint Hill area and in southern Cabarrus County due to heavy rain. That advisory was lifted shortly before 8 a.m., and there were no reports of flooding.

However, automated rain gauges showed more than 1.1 inches fell in one hour at Matthews Elementary School and at Bain Elementary School in Mint Hill. About 1 inch was reported in gauges at Providence High School at St. Matthew Catholic Elementary School in southeast Charlotte.

Even heavier rain fell Sunday evening to the northwest of Charlotte.

Emergency management officials reported several roads were flooded and washed out in the Caldwell County towns of Collettsville, Hudson and Valmead. Flooding was reported on Zack’s Fork Creek north of Lenoir, and on Little Gunpowder Creek south of Lenoir. Burke County also was hit, with several roads flooded near Drexel. The water subsided early Monday morning.

The Monday afternoon storms might not be the end of it.

Some computer models indicate another round of storms is possible late Monday night, but the National Weather Service is not sure that will happen.

Partial clearing will follow for Tuesday and Wednesday, with our hottest weather so far this season. High temperatures will reach the lower 90s each day. Some of the computer models indicate Wednesday’s highs will be in the upper 90s, but Weather Service meteorologists think that is overdone.

By later in the week, another cold front is expected to approach the region, dropping high temperatures back to seasonal levels.

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