More storms expected, but flooding threat wanes

Thunderstorms rolled across the Charlotte area early Wednesday morning, producing plenty of lightning and heavy rain but creating few problems.

Meteorologists said the threat of widespread flooding problems across the Carolinas is diminishing, in large part because of intense and persistent thunderstorm activity along the Gulf Coast.

Thunderstorms rattled the Charlotte area between 3 and 5 a.m. Wednesday, dumping about an inch of rain in many places. The storms moved northeast of the area before 6 a.m., and forecasters said Charlotte will be rain-free for several more hours.

The big question is how much additional activity will develop.

For days, meteorologists had warned of widespread severe thunderstorms and heavy rain for the Carolinas. But the worst weather has been confined mostly to eastern North Carolina.

A pocket of cool air moved into the western Carolinas late Monday and remains in place Wednesday morning. That prevented thunderstorms from developing.

And a cluster of storms that has dumped 20 inches of rain in the Florida Panhandle also disrupted the flow of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico into the Carolinas.

Scott Krentz, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., said about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday that forecasters are considering cancelling the flash flood watch for the area because the heavy rain has not developed.

In addition, the pocket of cool air – which covers Charlotte, Gastonia, Lincolnton, Concord, Salisbury, Hickory and Statesville – could serve as a buffer against severe thunderstorm development today. Areas outside that pocket – Monroe, Rock Hill, Lancaster, and even southeast Mecklenburg County – might be more at risk, forecasters said.

The early-morning storms dumped enough rain to cause flooding on Freedom Drive in west Charlotte. A city crew was called out to clear a plugged storm drain, and Freedom Drive was closed before 6 a.m. between Ashley Road and Camp Greene Street.

Conditions are expected to begin improving Thursday. A shower or two is possible in the morning, but partial clearing will follow. Dry weather is predicted for the rest of the week, through the weekend.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer