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Amid flood damage, new threat on way

By Elisabeth Arriero and Steve Lyttle
earriero@charlotteobserver.com

Flash flood watches and warnings continue Monday morning for much of the Charlotte region, and forecasters say we could be looking at four to five days of heavy rain.

The heaviest showers and thunderstorms overnight hit Anson, Stanly, Richmond and Montgomery counties, to the east of Charlotte. Those same areas also were hard-hit by damaging wind gusts and flooding rainfall Sunday afternoon and evening.

A flash flood warning is posted until 8:45 a.m. for Richmond, Stanly and Montgomery counties. But there were no new reports of flooding.

Meanwhile, a flash flood watch remains in effect for Mecklenburg and nearby counties until 6 p.m. Monday. National Weather Service meteorologists indicate the watch could be extended for another couple of days.

The Weather Service’s Bryan McAvoy said the region is trapped in a conveyor belt of moisture. More flooding rainfall is possible Tuesday and Wednesday, and possibly into the Independence Day holiday.

He said a lull in the rainfall is likely Monday morning and afternoon, but showers and storms are expected to redevelop by late afternoon. Some of the storms could carry precipitation heavy enough for flooding.

McAvoy said computer models indicate the heaviest rain Tuesday will fall east of Charlotte, putting the Anson-Stanly-Richmond-Montgomery area again in the bulls eye.

However, McAvoy added, “While I hope we miss most of the heavy rain on Tuesday and Tuesday night, this is by no means a sure bet. Even in this best case, we would still see numerous showers and thunderstorms with a localized flash flooding threat.”

McAvoy said things could get worse Wednesday, when computers predict the heaviest precipitation will shift back to the west, covering the Charlotte area.

“Unfortunately, this puts most of the forecast area in the business end of this system,” he said. “Several inches of rain is possible in parts of the forecast area.”

Meteorologists say soggy conditions from recent rainfall puts the Charlotte area in a higher risk of flooding.

“It wouldn’t take much for water to go back out of banks again and cause more flooding in the area,” said Leonard Vaughan, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Columbia. “It could cause some problems. Once (the storms are) there, it’s going to rain pretty hard.”

Sunday evening’s flooding hit hard in Anson and Stanly counties, east of Charlotte.

Stanly County emergency management officials reported that Nelson Mountain Road, east of the Plyler community, was washed out for the second time in recent weeks. Water lines also were damaged in the area.

In Anson County, there were several reports of roads closed because of high water. That included Grassy Island Road, about 6 miles east of Ansonville.

Flash floods across the region caused residents significant problems on Friday. In Lincoln County, about 25 families in the Trinity Farms neighborhood were stranded when a bridge – the only road leading to the community – was washed away during heavy rains.

“The water just washed out the whole road and tore it away,” said Martha Lide, interim county manager. It created a hole about 20 feet long and 16 feet wide, or “big enough to fit a school bus in there,” said Lide.

On Sunday, the families were finally able to leave their community when the N.C. Forestry Service completed a temporary bridge for them.

At Broadus Baptist in Concord, the church’s gym and Sunday school classrooms flooded during Friday’s downpour.

The heavy rain carried nearby mulch, which clogged the drainage system and led to indoor flooding of nearly an inch, said Bob Greene, the church’s maintenance supervisor.

Greene and two other people used wet/dry vaccum cleaners to treat the flooded rooms, working from 10 p.m. Friday through 3 a.m. Saturday. “I pray that it doesn’t happen again,” he said. “Thankfully there wasn’t any real damage.”

Fred Bickford said several roads in his neighborhood, Lake Shore Estates in Concord, also flooded on Friday evening.

“The water was so high in the spillway that it looked like rapids,” he said. “The rain was torrential. It was incredible.”

The N.C. Department of Transportation says flooding damaged Bud Henderson Road, and damage also was reported on Gilead Road between McCoy and Bud Henderson roads, and on McCoy Road at Gilead Road.

On the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, of which the National Weather Service is a partner, residents reported readings of 4 and 5 inches of rain on Friday night, said Vaughan.

During that same period, the National Weather Service reported just 0.27 inches of rain at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

In the service’s 135-year tracking history, Vaughan said, the month of June was the 15th wettest in the Charlotte region.

The weather is also dramatically different from the same time last year, he said. For instance, on June 29, 2012, the high temperature was 104. And for the entire month of June last year, only 1.02 inches of rain was reported.

This year, by comparison, the high temperature for June 29 was 86. And as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday, the rain level for the entire month was 6.88 inches.

Arriero: 704-804-2637; On Twitter: @earriero
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