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Fay brings a drenching and some tornado scares, too

The remnants of Tropical Storm Fay took a while reaching the Carolinas. Now Fay is taking its time leaving.

Forecasters say we can expect another day of tropical showers before the slow-moving low pressure system moves to the northeast.

“I'd say the Charlotte area could get another inch or two of rain on Wednesday,” said Vince DiCarlo of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C.

That would be in addition to a record-setting rainfall Tuesday – the heaviest single-day total in more than four years. In fact, more rain fell Tuesday at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport than has fallen in an entire month since March. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, 4.08 inches had fallen at Charlotte's airport. That easily shattered the Aug. 26 record of 1.86 inches, set in 1891.

The heavy rain prompted flash-flood warnings throughout the day, although no serious flooding was reported.

Accompanying the remnants of Fay were several small but powerful thunderstorms that prompted at least a half-dozen tornado warnings in the Charlotte area. There were no confirmed reports of tornadoes, although school officials in Union (N.C.) and Lancaster (S.C.) counties sent students and staff into interior hallways while the warnings were in effect.

Fay's heavy rain – 8 inches or more fell in some parts of the foothills and mountains – is expected to alleviate drought conditions. But there was a report Tuesday that the drought is deepening in much of the Charlotte region, despite this week's rain.

Catawba River reservoirs, which had remained stable for much of the year as conservation measures took hold, fell more than 9 percent in the past month.

“Drought indicators show no sign of improvement,” a Catawba drought-management advisory group reported Tuesday. The group recommended continued conservation measures, including once-a-week outdoor water use.

Up to 7.2 inches of rain – at Camp Thunderbird on Lake Wylie – fell in the 24 hours ending at mid-afternoon Tuesday.

Even so, two of the largest Catawba lakes, Norman and James, are more than a foot below their target levels for this time of year. The Catawba supplies water to much of the Charlotte region.

The drought group blamed the drop on increased water demand and the loss of millions of gallons a day to evaporation.

Much of the Catawba basin, west of Charlotte, remains in the most severe stage of drought.

Groundwater levels continue to decline, the group said, and streamflows are at 45 percent of normal.

Staff writer Bruce Henderson contributed.
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