EF-1 tornado hit parts of Charlotte area. ‘It just got stronger,’ resident says.

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An EF-1 tornado with peak winds of about 100 mph hit parts of the Charlotte area Monday, downing trees onto homes and power lines, according to the National Weather Service.

The tornado touched down near Burnt Umber Drive, just south of Reedy Creek Park, in east Charlotte, around 1:37 p.m., according to a preliminary report Tuesday. It headed northeast along a 10-mile path toward the Camelot neighborhood in the Cabarrus County town of Harrisburg, the report said.

A crew works to clear tornado damage from Scottie Wolds’ home in Harrisburg, NC, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
A crew works to clear tornado damage from Scottie Wolds’ home in Harrisburg, NC, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

The tornado “lifted” near Rocky River Elementary School in Concord around 1:51 p.m., the report said.

Teams from the NWS and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management assessed the damage in northeast Mecklenburg County and parts of Cabarrus on Tuesday.

EF-1 is the second least-intense of six tornado rankings based on the Enhanced Fujita Scale for potential damage caused.

Resident: Wind sounded like ‘train’

Maurice Tory, who lives along Burnt Umber Drive, said he heard what sounded like a “train” during the storm because the winds were so strong. Unfortunately for Tory, trees began falling down around his home — including the backyard and driveway — at about 3 p.m.

Tory said he’d just gotten home from work when it began raining “harder than usual.” He didn’t know about the severity of the storm until his mother told him about the trees on the street — including one that had a Chevrolet Impala trapped underneath it.

“Actually coming outside and assessing the damage was crazy,” Tory said. “We’ve had trees come down like during ice storms and stuff like that, but not to this magnitude. We don’t see stuff like this often.”

The Williams family cleans up tornado damage outside their home in Harrisburg, N.C., on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
The Williams family cleans up tornado damage outside their home in Harrisburg, N.C., on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

Neighbors stick together

When Scottie Wold and her husband, Bob, left the South Charlotte VA Clinic on Tyvola Road during Monday’s storm, they arrived at their Harrisburg home to find firetrucks in their yard and yellow tape around the house, she said.

And an enormous tree sticking out of the roof.

“I’m thinking, ‘Thank you Jesus,’” Scottie Wold recalled. “That’s the first thing that came to my mind.”

The Wolds have lived in the Camelot neighborhood since 1988. Now their home has no power and a hole that will take “several months” to repair, Wold said.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” she said. “I’m so grateful for what I have.”

Crews are clearing a downed tree that was on Scottie Wold’s home in the Camelot neighborhood in Harrisburg, NC, on Tuesday morning. Wold wasn’t home when it happened, and she said no one in the neighborhood has a scratch on them.
Crews are clearing a downed tree that was on Scottie Wold’s home in the Camelot neighborhood in Harrisburg, NC, on Tuesday morning. Wold wasn’t home when it happened, and she said no one in the neighborhood has a scratch on them.

Charlene Whichel, the Wolds’ neighbor of 16 years, said it began pouring down rain around 1 p.m., with the wind moving sideways and debris flying across her home’s windows.

“It just got stronger,” Whichel said. “We knew the trees probably would not survive.”

The wind from the storm was “so loud” that Whichel didn’t hear the trees falling — including the ones in her backyard. Tree branches and leaves currently cover her pool, backyard and shed.

“It’s a mess,” she said.

Whichel said her family is waiting for their insurance company to tell them what to do.

Scottie Wold said she and Bob spent Monday night with Whichel’s family, and they’ll continue to stay with them until their home is safe to reenter. Both families spent a lot of time together prior to the storm, so moving in made perfect sense, she said.

“That’s just the way we do, we’ve been neighbors forever,” Wold said. “[The Whichels] are good people. We are so blessed out here.”

Charles Coleman cleans up tornado damage outside his home in Harrisburg, N.C., on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Charles Coleman cleans up tornado damage outside his home in Harrisburg, N.C., on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

Tornado warnings

The tornado was part of a strong storm system that left around 4,000 Duke Energy customers along Plaza Midwood Road Extension, Hood Road, Rocky River Road and Harrisburg Road without electricity for hours, the Observer previously reported.

Tornado warnings were issued Monday afternoon for an area that included Concord, Kannapolis and Harrisburg. Another warning was issued for Rowan County.

In South Carolina, a tornado warning was issued Monday evening for an area from the York County line in the north to the southern edge of Chester County, the Herald of Rock Hill reported.

The last tornado to directly hit Charlotte or Mecklenburg County came on Feb. 6, 2020, according to the NWS. The EF-1 tornado, with maximum sustained winds of 95 mph, touched down west of Pineville just after noon and traveled nearly 17 miles on “an intermittent path” into south Charlotte then east into Matthews and Union County, officials said.

A strong but brief EF-2 tornado touched down on March 3, 2012, in an area just north of where Monday’s storm hit. Its path started near Dulin Creek Road in east Charlotte before the 200-yard-wide storm traveled more than 1.5 miles across Interstate 485 and into Cabarrus County. More than 160 homes were damaged, and four people were injured.

Charlotte weather forecast

As for the remainder of the week, the Charlotte area should see mostly cloudy skies and highs in the mid-70s on Wednesday, with a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms, according to the NWS forecast at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

There is a 50% chance for rain Thursday, with a high near 83. However, severe weather should not be an issue, according to Doug Outlaw, a meteorologist with the NWS office in Greer, S.C. The chance for any damaging weather will be southwest of Charlotte, toward South Carolina, he said.

“Currently, the risk of anything severe happening like what happened (Monday) is quite low,” Outlaw said. “We’re going to get more rain.”

More rain is possible Friday, with a high near 78. The sun returns this weekend, with high temperatures back in the 80s.

News editor Rogelio Aranda contributed to this story.