Know your thunderstorm types
At least 20,000 Duke Energy customers in south Charlotte remained without power early Sunday after severe storms Saturday afternoon.
Storms delivered “dime- and pea-size” hail and 40-mph gusts to parts of North Carolina’s mountains as the weather system that produced them pushed toward the Charlotte region Saturday, National Weather Service meteorologists said in hazardous weather alerts.
At 2 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a “severe thunderstorm watch” until 9 p.m. for Mecklenburg and 33 other counties in the Charlotte area and mountains.
At 1:30 p.m, Doppler radar showed a cluster of thunderstorms threatening to deliver “very heavy rainfall” at rates up to 2 inches per hour to Burnsville, Sylva, Spruce Pine, Waynesville and parts of Asheville.
Just before 2 p.m., a storm with similar gusts was plowing through Marion. The same storm could also bring 40-mph gusts to Morganton, Lenoir and Valdese, forecasters said.
“Some of these thunderstorms may be strong to severe,” according to the NWS alert. “The primary threat will be damaging winds with an isolated threat of large hail.”
A thunderstorm barreled through uptown Charlotte at about 4 p.m., and NWS forecasters expected more storms to emerge at night.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport’s social media team retweeted a comment by a traveler from Pennsylvania: “3 hour layover at CLTAirport ... 15 minutes earlier it was sunny. Then all hell broke loose!”
The tweet included one photo of black clouds outside the terminal and a second picture showing a bottle of Corona with American Airlines planes in the background at gates.
On its outages map, Duke Energy reported that Saturday afternoon storms caused ”extensive damage to select areas of the Carolinas. In our hardest hit areas, crews will be working into Sunday to restore service as quickly as possible.”
Most Duke Energy customers without power from the storms were in Mecklenburg County, primarily south Charlotte, according to the outages map.
The threat of severe weather, including occasional tornadoes, has been a weekly constant in parts of the Carolinas for months. .
Most recently, a person was killed by a toppling tree Thursday when a powerful thunderstorm rolled through the Earlewood area of Columbia, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts told The State.
That same afternoon, thunderstorms knocked out power to nearly 6,700 Duke Energy customers in Mecklenburg County, The Charlotte Observer reported.