CMS Closed In Wake Of Storms That Slammed Charlotte Region
Updated 8:45 a.m. Friday
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is closed Friday. The district says a dozen of its schools are without power and that driving conditions for buses are unsafe following storms Thursday that are being blamed for two deaths and left thousands without power.
One person was killed Thursday in York County, South Carolina, when a car was hit by a falling tree, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety said. Another man, 73-year-old Terry Roger Fisher, died when his truck hydroplaned on N.C. 150 and collided with a utility pole just outside Cherryville.
Other districts that have closed today include Cabarrus, Union, Rowan-Salisbury, and all public schools in York County. Gaston, Lincoln, and Iredell-Statesville Schools are on a two-hour delay, as are Catawba and Hickory Public Schools. Though the storm has passed, Hannah Sanborn with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management says residents still need to be cautious.
"We are still looking at high winds today," Sanborn said. "There’ll likely still be some debris on the road, potential flooded areas, so people still need to remain alert."
The National Weather Service says it’s investigating four areas where a tornado may have touched down — near Pineville, Matthews, Concord, and also Gold Hill in Rowan County. The city of Kannapolis also reported a tornado touchdown near its downtown.
"The damage assessments are really underway today," Sanborn said. "We’ll be meeting with the National Weather Service as well to determine if there was in fact tornadic activity in the county."
The National Weather Service confirmed several radar-indicated tornadoes were in the Charlotte region Thursday as severe weather moved through the area. Flash flooding remains a concern.
Union County declared a state of emergency Friday morning, giving the Sheriff's Office authority to close roads impacted by flooding and issue citations to motorists who disregard emergency barricades. A list of roads affected is on the Union County website.
One person was killed in York County when a car was hit by a falling tree, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety said. Another man, 73-year-old Terry Roger Fisher, died when his truck hydroplaned on N.C. 150 and collided with a utility pole just outside Cherryville.
Just after 2 p.m., the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office issued a warning urging people to stay inside if possisble and to avoid driving through water. The EOC also activated two emergency shelters that will open at 6 p.m. Thursday: Naomi Drenan Recreation Center at 750 Beal St. in Charlotte and the Crews Recreation Center at 1201 Crews Rd. in Matthews. Both can take pets. Both shelters closed at noon Friday.
By Thursday evening, Gaston County had issued a voluntary evacuation notice to Cramerton, Lowell and McAdenville -- all of which sit alongside the rising South Fork River. Gaston County Emergency Management said it expects the river to rise to 16.1 feet early Friday morning; 15.5 feet is considered a "major flood stage."
Additionally, Gaston County schools announced it will operate on a two-hour delay Friday.
All schools will operate on Friday, February 7 on a two-hour delay for students. Employees should report to work on a normal schedule if they can do so safely.— GastonCountySchools (@GastonSchools) February 6, 2020
Severe weather struck about midday Thursday, when several tornadoes were spotted. A tornado was seen touching down near Charlotte's airport just after 11 a.m.
The city of Kannapolis confirmed that a tornado touched down near the Lane Street exit on I-85. There were no injuries reported, but some property damage and power lines down. Others have been spotted in Gastonia and Rowan County.
The National Weather Service previously issued tornado warnings that included parts of Mecklenburg, Gaston, Cabarrus and Stanly counties.
Charlotte-Douglas International Airport briefly evacuated its tower, and a groundstop was in effect for planes for several hours midday. More than 370 flights into and out of Charlotte were canceled.
A tornado warning means a tornado has been indicated by radar. A watch means tornadoes are possible. The National Weather Service says the total area under a tornado watch -- which runs from north Georgia to near Winston-Salem -- at one point Thursday morning was home to about 9.7 million people.
Several areas in the region were under flash flood watches and warnings as rain and winds moved across the area.
The city of Hickory declared an official state of emergency Thursday afternoon in response to flooding and flash flooding that damaged streets, bridges and other public infrastructure.
Some area schools are closing early, including Rowan-Salisbury Schools, which is sent students home four hours early and canceled all after-school activities. Kannapolis City Schools planned to dismiss after the tornado warning was lifted.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools did not dismiss students early, but canceled after-school activities.
Rain and thunderstorms will continue throughout Thursday in Charlotte, according to the National Weather Service, with wind gusts as high as 32 mph possible.
Duke Energy reported power outages across the region.
In Charlotte, a flash flood watch is in effect until 12 a.m. Friday.
Duke Energy announced Wednesday that it had lowered lake levels ahead along the Nantahala, Catawba and Yadkin river basins. Duke said it expected that the lakes it controls, from Lake James to Mountain Island Lake, would have twice the normal capacity for rain.
The Red Cross opened two emergency shelters in the region — one at the Catawba County Community College and another in Rutherford County at Second Baptist Church on Green Street.
— Reporting by Marshall Terry, Lisa Worf, Gwendolyn Glenn, Nick de la Canal, David Boraks, Jodie Valade and Dashiell Coleman