Storms spare Mecklenburg, cause damage to the east

02/21/2014 6:18 AM

02/21/2014 11:34 AM

A line of heavy showers and thunderstorms roared through the Charlotte area during the morning commute Friday, bringing gusty winds and blinding rain but little more.

The storms strengthened as they moved east of Charlotte, however, and they were responsible for downed trees and power lines and scattered reports of damage.

The stormy weather marked an end to the record-setting warmth of recent days, but forecasters say the Charlotte region will still enjoy above-average temperatures and nice conditions for the weekend. High temperatures are forecast to be in the middle to upper 60s Saturday and Sunday.

The bad weather was part of the same system that brought more than 300 reports of tornadoes, damaging wind gusts and hail to the Ohio Valley and the South on Thursday. As the line of storms moved into the mountains before daybreak Friday, they weakened.

While heavy rain fell briefly across much of the Charlotte region, most areas escaped with a half-inch or less. About a quarter-inch of rain was recorded at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, although some locations in eastern Mecklenburg and western Union counties got much more. Gauges at Providence High School in southeast Charlotte and Lebanon Road Elementary School in Mint Hill recorded about 1 inch.

A flood advisory was issued for parts of Mecklenburg, Union and Cabarrus counties, but no flooding was reported. Wind gusts from the storms were estimated at 40 mph.

The storms grew stronger as they pushed east of Charlotte, encountering a more unstable atmosphere. Police in Albemarle said strong winds about 9:30 a.m. blew part of a wall onto a car on Third Street. Nobody was in the car at the time. In northeast Anson County, authorities reported winds blew down trees and power lines along N.C. 109 north of Lilesville.

A tornado watch was issued through Friday afternoon across the eastern one-third of the Carolinas.

The storms caused concern in parts of South Carolina, where crews from several states have been working to restore electricity to the 200,000-plus customers who lost power a week ago during the severe ice storm. Van O’Cain, of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, said workers had whittled the number of outages down to 1,700 Friday morning, but he said officials were concerned that thunderstorm winds could bring down limbs or trees that were weakened in last week’s winter weather.

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