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Heavy Rains Bring Flooding, Prompt Emergency Declarations

A family walked down Riverside Dr. to look at the flooding on May 10, 2019.
David Boraks
A family walked down Riverside Dr. to look at the flooding on May 10, 2019.

Updated 11:54 a.m.
Heavy rains across North Carolina over the weekend caused flash floods and evacuations in some areas because of rising waters.  The Red Cross opened temporary shelters and several local governments declared states of emergency because of the weather and flooding.

Map shows areas of heaviest rainfall in the Piedmont over the past few days.
Credit National Weather Service
Map shows areas of heaviest rainfall in the Piedmont over the past few days. Red is up to 8 inches, orange up to 6 inches, bright yellow up to 4 inches, and dark green up to 2.5 inches.

Flooding has already been blamed forthree deaths in a crash in Lincoln County Saturday. Some schools have been canceled in Catawba County.

More rain is in the forecast through Wednesday. The National Weather Service says there's a 70% chance of rain in the Charlotte area Monday. Showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop all day, ahead of an approaching cold front tonight. Rain could fall at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour in heavy downpours, adding to the threat of flooding, the weather service says.


Meanwhile, runoff from heavy rains over the past few days will bring more flooding along the Catawba River.

There's a flood warning until 1:45 p.m. for Mountain Island Lake, northwest of Charlotte. The warning affects northeastern Gaston County and northwestern Mecklenburg County.

Flooding is possible as Duke Energy releases water from Cowans Ford Dam in Huntersville. That's sending more water than usual downstream.

The National Weather Service said Mountain Island Lake is reaching levels not seen since 1940.  

In Rock Hill, the Catawba River was four feet over flood stage at midday Monday. A weather service alert warns that more flooding today and tonight could affect buildings and roads in flood plains near the river in York and Mecklenburg Counties.

Other areas expected to see flooding include parts of: Fort Mill, Tega Cay, Town Of Lake Wylie, Steele Creek, Catawba, Lake Wylie, Lesslie, Rock Hill, Carowinds and Southwest Charlotte.
Mecklenburg County Emergency Management says major flooding is possible in the Lake Drive and Riverside Drive area along the Catawba River in western Mecklenburg County. The agency is recommending that residents in the area evacuate.  
The American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter Sunday night for anyone displaced by the evacuation. It's at Hopewell  High School, 11530 Beatties Ford Road in Huntersville. A dozen residents and four dogs spent the night, according to the Red Cross. 

Gaston County officials warned residents that Mountain Island Lake has crested at 106.8 feet and could go higher with more rain.  At 105 feet, significant flooding can occur at lake access areas and docks.  Affected neighborhoods include the Nivens Cove Community and Fox Ridge Lane in the Stonewater Bay Community in Gaston County.

Boaters, including those in canoes and kayaks, are being asked to stay off the water because faster than normal currents.

The National Weather Service said Sunday that six inches or more of rain has fallen since Thursday between Boone and Lincolnton. Up to 2.5 inches fell over the past two days around Lake Norman, according to the National Weather Service. (Seea rainfall map here.) 

Catawba County commissioners declared a state of emergency Sunday to coordinate recovery after roads were closed by high water.  Residents of Ridgecrest Apartments in Hickory were evacuated to a temporary shelter at Catawba Valley Community College. The Red Cross said 34 people stayed there overnight Sunday. 


Duke Energy lake levels page, http://lakes.duke-energy.com/

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.