More than 286,000 in Carolinas still without power after Tropical Storm Michael

Nearly 24,000 Mecklenburg County customers of Duke Energy are without power late Friday afternoon, a day after the center of Tropical Storm Michael blew past the Charlotte region. The storm killed three people in North Carolina.

At 5:30 p.m., Duke reported about 286,600 North Carolina customers still affected and just 100 in South Carolina. Those numbers were down from more than 28,000 in Mecklenburg County, 342,000 statewide and 2,400 in South Carolina at 2 p.m. The Charlotte-based utility had projected 300,000 to 500,000 outages in the Carolinas from Michael.

High winds, following several inches of rain in some places, toppled trees that tore down power lines across the region Thursday.

Charlotte’s Blue Line light rail line was shut down Thursday because of damage in two places from fallen trees, but service partially reopened Thursday night. Friday, CATS said the Gold Line streetcar line would be closed because of repairs to the light rail line.

Some roads in Mecklenburg County are still closed Friday morning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said. The state transportation department reported that Oakdale Road in northwest Mecklenburg is closed in both directions because of an obstruction and the southbound lanes of South Tryon Street at Remount Road are closed because of a downed trees on power lines.

Mecklenburg County’s Southeast Health Department on Billingsley Road and Valerie C. Woodward offices on Freedom Drive are closed Friday because of power outages.

Charlotte’s airport reported high wind gusts early Thursday morning, followed by another spurt in early afternoon. The airport had 2.4 inches of rain, more than an inch less than the National Weather Service had projected.

In Mecklenburg County, Medic said it had responded to 57 tree-related calls by 3 p.m. Thursday — more than occurred during Hurricane Florence in September.

Florence dropped 6 inches of rain on Charlotte over two days and whipped up winds that averaged nearly 20 mph on Sept. 15. Michael brought half as much rain and winds averaging 13 mph Thursday, with peak gusts of 46 mph that mirrored the highest gusts from Florence.

North Carolina’s mountains saw the heaviest rainfall of the western Carolinas. Black Mountain, east of Asheville, recorded 11.9 inches of rain Wednesday and Thursday, the weather service said. Little Switzerland, in Mitchell County, had 10.7 inches and Dana, in Henderson County, 9.5 inches.

But North Carolina’s mid-section was hardest hit by outages.

That included the Greensboro and Winston-Salem area, with more than 89,000 customers in Guilford County, 23,000 in Forsyth and 23,000 in Alamance without power on Friday afternoon. About 34,000 customers were still affected in Raleigh and Durham.

Some outages could take days to repair, Duke says. About 6,000 repair workers, including brought in from as far as Canada, are on the ground and more are on the way from Florida and the Midwest. Duke says damage is still being assessed in most cases, a process that can take up to 24 hours.

By 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Duke had reported restoring power to 180,000 customers but said 490,000 remained without power.

A man and woman died in McDowell County after their car hit a large tree across the road in Marion, Gov. Roy Cooper’s office confirmed Friday. An Iredell County man died Thursday when a large oak tree toppled onto his car.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051; @bhender