Now you can imagine what that deluge would do to Charlotte. The Washington Post created an interactive mapping tool that tells users how deep the water would get at any street address.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, in uptown, and Carolinas Medical Center would both be surrounded by water 5.1 feet deep, according to the tool. Charlotte’s airport would stand in 4.4 feet of water and South Mecklenburg High School in 1.6 feet of water.
Not that it’s likely to happen. Charlotte is 170 miles from the Atlantic coast, far from a tropical storm’s landfall. The city has never seen more than 6.9 inches of rain in a single day or 16.5 inches in a month, according to records that date to 1878.
Still, floods from rising creeks have left heavy damage to some Charlotte neighborhoods. Flood risks in low-lying areas go up as development covers more ground, increasing the volume and force of storm water.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg offers an online search tool to learn whether your home or business is on property with a 1-percent or greater risk of flooding – commonly called a 100-year flood – in any given year. Flood insurance and development restrictions apply to those areas, called floodplains.
The site also shows the annual risks of flooding, by location, and both the expected horizontal extent and depth of water at different flood severity levels.
A second site shows rain totals and stream levels of creeks across the county.
More than 5 inches of rain fell in less than two hours in parts of Mecklenburg County in a once-in-a-century storm in 2014. Flooding in 2011 left an estimated $1.5 million in damage to about 160 Charlotte buildings and killed two people.