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More severe storms forming

Severe thunderstorms are forming again this afternoon in the Charlotte metro region and appear to be headed for the Charlotte area.

The National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., has issued a number of severe thunderstorm warnings in the past hour, and the storms seem to be strengthening. At 4:30 p.m., a line of storms was crossing eastern Catawba, eastern Lincoln, Gaston and York counties.

There have been several reports of damage -- mostly downed trees and power lines -- across Catawba, Lincoln and Cleveland counties. The National Weather Service said a funnel cloud was spotted about 3:30 p.m. near Polkville in Cleveland County, and a 13-inch-diameter tree was blown down in Boiling Springs, also in Cleveland County.

Forecasters say they expect several storms to contain damaging wind gusts, hail and heavy rain this afternoon and evening in the area.

It is the second consecutive day of severe storms in the Charlotte area.

Hard-hitting storms swept across the Charlotte area during Tuesday evening's rush hour, cutting off power to thousands, knocking a tree limb into a loaded CATS bus and dumping heavy rain in some areas. And storms caused damage in parts of the area Sunday.

At its peak, Tuesday's storms knocked out power to more than 30,000 Duke Energy customers in the Carolinas, including more than 23,000 in Mecklenburg. About 1,300 were without power in both Iredell and Cabarrus, and close to 2,000 lost electricity in Union.

Lightning also might have been responsible for at least one house fire in Mecklenburg. During the storm, firefighters responded to three working fires and eight lightning strikes. They also responded to 25 reports of downed power lines and two calls of people trapped by high water.

The tree limb that hit the bus was apparently knocked down by a strong gust of wind on Providence Road near the Manor Theatre at Fenton Place. It crashed through the bus's windshield but didn't do much other damage. A replacement bus was called in.

The severe thunderstorms developed just after 4 p.m. moving east from Cleveland County and producing wind gusts up to 60 mph.

The storms also produced frequent lightning strikes. Radar from WCNC-TV, the Observer's news partner, showed more than 680 strikes in one 10-minute period.

The good news from the storms was the rain. More than an inch fell at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, where July's rainfall is more than one inch above normal. Even heavier rainfall totals were reported elsewhere in the region, with some places picking up two inches or more.

The Observer's June Lancaster and WCNC-TV contributed.

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