Possible tornadoes and powerful straight-line winds struck the Charlotte region on Monday afternoon, damaging planes, cars and buildings at Hickory Regional Airport, downing trees and power lines across the region and causing flooding from Biltmore Village in Asheville to North Tryon Street in Charlotte.
Crews from the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C., plan to survey damage in Alexander, Burke, Cleveland and Catawba counties on Tuesday to track damage from suspected tornadoes, NWS meteorologist Lauren Carroll said late Monday. Alexander and Cleveland said their schools will be closed on Tuesday, while Hickory Public Schools and Watauga County Schools will operate on a two-hour delay for staff and students.
At least one tornado is believed to have traveled through parts of Cleveland, Catawba, Burke and Alexander counties beginning at about 3:30 p.m., Carroll said. Another could be responsible for the airport damage. No injuries were reported by late Monday.
Weather Service teams will inspect reported damage to numerous roofs and cars along the path of the storms and will measure the intensity of the storms, Carroll said.
A state of emergency has been declared Tuesday for the town of Hickory due to “significant amount of damage scattered through out the city.” The worst hit area was northwest Hickory around the airport, officials said. “Current conditions are still quite dangerous, with fallen power lines, fallen trees, and debris in the roadways,” said a statement issued by the city. “The City encourages its citizens to exercise extreme caution if they must travel, but it is best to avoid the affected areas if possible.”
Duke Energy reported that most of its outages were in Catawba County, where 30,600 customers were without power at 9 p.m. Monday, and Wilkes County, which had 20,800 with no electricity. The storms spared Mecklenburg County, where only 136 customers lost power.
Flooding led to swiftwater rescues in Boone, while Caldwell County officials confirmed that at least 10 houses were damaged and that a mudslide occurred on N.C. 90 at Staircase Road, Observer news partner WBTV reported. Flooding also closed part of Broad Street in Statesville. Interstate 77 was partially flooded from north of Harris Boulevard to Davidson.
The National Weather Service also plans to survey damage in Spartanburg County and other parts of South Carolina where tornadoes were suspected.
Some parts of the Carolinas remained under tornado watches until at least 10 p.m., including Anson and Richmond counties and Chesterfield, S.C.
The American Red Cross opened shelters at South Caldwell High School, 7035 Spartan Drive in Hudson; Alliance Bible Fellowship Church Hall, 1035 Highway 105 in Boone; and at the Wilkes Senior Center, 228 Fairplains School Road in North Wilkesboro. A shelter was on standby at the Ellenboro Fire Department, 175 Depot St. in Bostic, Rutherford County.
People can check shelter availability and whether a shelter is open on the Red Cross emergency app. It may be downloaded in your mobile phone app store. or text “GETEMERGENCY” to 90999. Anyone considering going to the shelter in Rutherford County is urged to check the app first to confirm the shelter has been opened.
Among the damage incidents reported early Tuesday:
- The Caldwell County community of Grace Chapel area reportedly had 121 homes damaged, according to the Hickory Daily Record.
- Two hangars at the Hickory Regional Airport were damaged during a severe storm Monday afternoon. The worst of the damage was on the north ramp of the airport. Airport officials say that no one was injured during the storm and that the airport is still open and operating, reports the Observer’s news partner WBTV. Flash flooding in Boone caused major damage to units in at least three different apartment complexes along Cedar Creek near Meadowview. The area is between the Boone Mall and the Walmart shopping areas.
- Flash flooding in Boone caused major damage to units in at least three different apartment complexes along Cedar Creek near Meadowview. Dozens of cars at the units and at Walmart were inundated by the water. Town officials have temporarily ordered people in flooded apartments to get out. At least 60 are involved with most of those affected being students at Appalachian State University.
- Surveyors with the National Weather Service are planning to be in Caldwell County Tuesday after a possible tornado blew through and damaged at least 15 homes, according to TV station WSOC.
- The storm ripped off the roof of the Lawndale post office in Cleveland County, according to WSOC. The heavy winds scattered parts of the roof throughout the parking lot and on top of cars.
- In Catawba County, more than 28,000 customers were without power as of 6 a.m., while roughly 6,000 Duke Energy customers were still in the dark in Cleveland County. In Burke County, that number was around 5,000, while nearly 4,000 people were still without power in Alexander County, reported media outlets.
- Storm damage closed Chimney Rock State Park and Stone Mountain State Park in Roaring Gap, reported the Hickory Daily Record.