Charlotte area residents enjoyed the return of the sun on Saturday after escaping much of the wrath of Hermine, as the Atlantic’s fourth hurricane of the season battered the N.C. coast instead.
The National Weather Service had issued a flash flood watch for Mecklenburg and nearby counties in advance of the storm, as some weather models had Hermine dumping 4 to 6 inches of rain here, NWS meteorologist Andrew Kimball said Saturday.
Instead, the most that fell in the area from 8 a.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday was 2.4 inches south of Monroe, Kimball said. Only 0.71 inches fell at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, he said.
“We certainly didn’t get as much rain as we expected leading up to the event,” Kimball said.
A round of heavy thunderstorms Thursday evening dumped several inches of rain in parts of the area. An automated gauge near Tyvola Road in south Charlotte measured 4.8 inches of rain, and 2.5 inches of rain were reported elsewhere in south Charlotte. Flooding closed Downs and Eagleton Downs roads in Pineville for a time Thursday evening.
But not enough rain fell in the immediate Charlotte area on Friday to cause more flooding.
The storm knocked trees onto power lines in Mecklenburg and Union counties.
Mecklenburg County had by far the most number of power outages in the area, with 2,900 Duke Energy customers without power at 9 p.m. Friday, although the number dropped to several hundred by Saturday morning.
The scene on the coast was far worse.
In the Outer Banks, an 18-wheeler crash that killed the driver on a bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway was caused by high winds from Hermine. The only other death from the storm was reported in Florida, where Hermine came ashore.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, at least 30,800 power outages were reported in the state – all but about 2,000 of those in Eastern North Carolina.
Gov. Pat McCrory, who declared a state of emergency for 33 coastal counties on Thursday, urged residents on Saturday morning to stay vigilant to flooding.
“I’m relieved that everyone took this storm seriously, paid attention to the weather forecast and heeded the warnings of state and local officials,” McCrory said. “But I want everyone to continue to exercise caution as they enjoy the rest of the Labor Day weekend. Since the biggest result has been flooding, if you come across flooded roads, turn around; it’s not worth risking your safety.”
Hermine’s center moved off the coast near Nags Head at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Kimball said. At 5 p.m., the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Hermine was expected to remain a powerful cyclone off the mid-Atlantic coast for the next few days, with dangerous storm surge expected along the coast from Virginia to New Jersey.
As for Charlotte? Expect sunny skies at least through Wednesday, with forecast highs of 84 Sunday, 89 Labor Day, 90 Tuesday and 92 Wednesday.
Correspondent Steve Lyttle contributed