The tornado watch for parts of the Charlotte metro region has been extended until early Wednesday morning, and forecasters say the area long the Carolinas border could be especially at risk later tonight.
The remnants of Tropical Storm Fey have produced flash flooding, tornadoes and a record rainfall in Charlotte today. More of the same is predicted for the next eight hours.
The tornado watch had been scheduled to expire at 7 p.m., but the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., extended it until 2 a.m.
The watch now includes Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Stanly, Anson, Gaston, Lincoln and Cleveland counties in the Charlotte area -- along with all nearby South Carolina counties. The area along and north of Interstate 40 is not included in the watch because the atmosphere in that region is too stable for tornado development, forecasters say.
Mecklenburg County has escaped the frequent tornado warnings issued today, but forecasters say that could change.
Jeff Evans, a lead forecaster at the Storm Prediction Center, said a weak front that has been near the Carolinas border today is expected to move slowly northward tonight. That front separates unstable air from a slightly cooler air mass.
Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Gaston, Lincoln and Stanly counties have been on the stable side of the front today. Severe thunderstorms that formed today in South Carolina have weakened as they moved into the more stable air. That is expected to change late tonight and early Thursday.
No tornadoes have been reported in the immediate Charlotte area, but there have been several confirmed twisters in the last few hours near and south of the Greenville-Spartanburg area in South Carolina's upstate.
Numerous tornado warnings have been issued earlier today -- four each in Lancaster and Chester counties of South Carolina, and two in Union County of North Carolina.
A record has been set today for rainfall in Charlotte. As of 4 p.m., 4.08 inches had fallen at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. That easily shattered the record for Aug. 26, of 1.86 inches, set in 1891. It also is more than any entire month since March, and the biggest one-day total in Charlotte since 4.14 inches fell on July 17, 2004.
The heaviest rainfall total measured so far today is 4.34 inches at an automated gauge at Kennedy Middle School. An even 4 inches has fallen at a gauge at Fire Station 30, off Yorkmont Road in southwest Charlotte. Other heavy totals include 3.97 inches at Lake Wylie Elementary School; 3.27 inches on Sugar Creek at Compton Street in Charlotte; and 3.21 inches at the Rock Hill Airport.
Here are some storm reports from today:
Lancaster County, S.C.: Duckwood Road, near Taxahaw, was closed for about an hour late this morning due to high water. That is 9 miles northeast of Heath Springs. About the same time, flooding was reported in the Forty Acre Rock area, 8 miles north-northeast of Kershaw.
About 3:15 p.m., additional flooding was reported on Blue Jay Road, near Flat Creek -- 10 miles east-northeast of Heath Springs. The same storm responsible for the flooding also produced a funnel cloud that was spotted by the sheriff's office near Heath Springs.
McDowell County: Flash flooding at midday west of Marion. Up to 6 inches of water was flowing across U.S. 70 between the Pleasant Gardens community and the Catawba River. A rock slide was reported at Old Fort Mountain, and several trees fell when heavy rain washed away the root system.
Union County: Flooding was reported about 2:30 p.m. on several streets in Marshville, in the eastern part of the county.
A tornado warning earlier this morning in eastern Union County prompted Union County Public Schools officials to send students into emergency procedures.
"That means students and staff were ordered into the hallways until the threat passed," Luan Ingram, spokeswoman for the Union County Schools, told NewsChannel 36, the Observer's news partner.
NewsChannel 36 contributed.