A powerful winter storm blasted the Carolinas overnight, bringing heavy rain and flooding to the Charlotte area and a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain to the north.
More than 100,000 Duke Energy customers are without power at 6 a.m. Friday, mostly in the Greensboro area where heavy freezing rain fell during much of the night.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are operating on a normal schedule Friday, as are school systems in Cabarrus, Union and Gaston counties, and in the South Carolina counties. But most other systems are opening on a delayed basis, and the Iredell-Statesville, Burke County and Caldwell County systems are closed.
The N.C. Highway Patrol reports roads are in bad shape in the northern foothills and mountains. Rain changed to snow in the Hickory and Statesville areas around 4:30 a.m., with about 1 inch accumulating by 6:30 a.m.
But even in areas like Charlotte, where the precipitation has fallen mostly as rain, motorists are encountering problems with ponding on roadways.
The National Weather Service has issued two flood warnings in the Charlotte area – one for the Mallard Creek area of northern Mecklenburg and southeast Cabarrus counties; and the other for western Union and southeastern Mecklenburg counties.
Nearly 2 inches of rain has fallen since Thursday evening in much of the area.
Forecasters say they expect the rain to continue Friday in the Charlotte region, with a continuation of the snow, sleet and freezing rain to the north. Temperatures are slightly above freezing in Charlotte at 6:30 a.m. and are expected to climb only a few degrees during the day.
Temperatures along the I-40 corridor are in the lower 30s and expected to climb only a degree or two during the morning.
The storm has affected the region in two different ways, providing heavy rain and a flooding threat in the southern part of North Carolina and in South Carolina, and bringing wintry conditions to the northern half of North Carolina.
While heavy wet snowflakes and sleet were reported at times during the night, the storm has produced mostly rain.
More than 1.6 inches of rain was reported at Charlotte Douglas International Airport between Thursday evening and 6 a.m. Friday. Forecasters said another half-inch of more could fall Friday before the rain tapers off later in the afternoon.
Two flood warnings are in effect. The first, for Mallard Creek, continues until 8:30 a.m. Automated gauges showed Mallard Creek just a half-foot below flood stage at 4 a.m. Some flooding of the creek has been reported since then.
Authorities said flooding is possible on parts of Mallard Creek Church Road, North Tryon Street, Pavilion Boulevard and Browne Road. Police said high water might have been responsible for a wreck about 3 a.m. on Mallard Creek Church Road.
The second flood warning is for Goose Creek in western Union County. At 6 a.m., the creek was about a half-foot below flood stage. The National Weather Service warned that flooding could take place on Sardis Church, Secrest Shortcut, Stallings, Lawyers and Unionville-Indian Trail roads. The flood warning continues until 11:30 a.m.
The storm produced mostly freezing rain in the Greensboro and Winston-Salem areas, down toward Asheboro and Salisbury. That is where most of the power outages have been reported. At 6:30 a.m., Duke Energy was reporting 160,000 customers without power.
Along the I-40 corridor in Iredell, Catawba and Burke counties, the storm produced a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain. Sleet fell much of the night in the area, although a heavy wet snow has been falling since about 5 a.m. Emergency communications said roads are snow-covered and slippery in Catawba and Iredell counties.
Schools systems in Iredell, Burke and Caldwell counties had planned to open on three-hour delays Friday, but officials decided about 6:30 a.m. to close schools for the day due to worsening road conditions.