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Saturday's storms brought flooding, high winds to Charlotte area

Severe thunderstorms brought flooding, winds and a tornado warning to the Charlotte region Saturday.

The weather was also likely a factor in a fatal car crash Saturday morning in southwest Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said.

About 10:30 a.m., a 2001 Toyota Camry was traveling west on Yorkmont Road near the Billy Graham Library. In heavy rain, the car ran off the right side of the road, turned sideways in the wet grass and hit a utility pole, police said.

The driver, Surya Akula, 33, died at the scene. Akula was from India and lived in Charlotte, police said. Three passengers, including a toddler, were taken to Carolinas Medical Center with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

The four inside the car were all wearing seat belts, and police don’t believe alcohol or speed were factors.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings throughout the day, the latest lasting until 10 p.m. in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties. The storms also caused thousands of power outages, according to Duke Energy’s website.

Automated gauges showed most creeks and streams in the Charlotte region were at or near full levels early Saturday afternoon, and some roads reportedly flooded.

Cabarrus County and other counties to the east of the region were on watch for tornadoes Saturday afternoon. There were scattered reports of wind damage – mostly downed trees and some power lines about midday in Gaston, Union and York, S.C., counties.

Union County officials closed access to the lake at Cane Creek Park to boaters because docks were underwater, creating a safety hazard. There was no immediate timetable for when boat access would resume.

The good news is Panthers fans can enjoy beautiful conditions Sunday during the playoff game at Bank of America Stadium. The National Weather Service calls for sunny weather with a high near 56 degrees. Staff writers Steve Lyttle and April Bethea contributed.

Ruebens: 704-358-5294; Twitter: @lruebens
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