Severe storms left 20,000 Duke Energy customers without power in the Charlotte area on Saturday. By Sunday morning, there were isolated electricity outages reported, with a concentration of close to 1,000 customers along Sharon Road West, close to South Boulevard.
The day before, wind gusts up to 60 mph and quarter-size hail descended on parts of the region, National Weather Service meteorologists reported.
About 9,000 customers in southern Mecklenburg County, 4,000 in Cabarrus County and nearly 3,000 in York County, S.C., lost electricity on Saturday afternoon.
The storms struck on a particularly hot day, when Charlotte endured a blistering heat index of 103, according to the NWS.
The heat index is what the temperature feels like when humidity levels and temperature are combined.
A high of 94 degrees was reported at Charlotte’s airport on Saturday, according to the NWS.
In a bulletin at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, the NWS office in Greer, S.C., warned of the potential for widespread severe afternoon storms.
“A few of these storms could become quite strong and produce large hail, heavy rainfall, and damaging winds,” NWS meteorologists said in the alert.
Tropical Depression Fred
The storms arrived days ahead of heavy rain expected in the Charlotte area from Tropical Depression Fred.
Fred’s rains could arrive by early Wednesday, after blanketing much of Alabama and Tennessee and northwest Georgia, according to a map of the probable storm path issued by the National Hurricane Center early Saturday.
Parts of the Florida Keys were under a tropical storm warning on Saturday. At 5 p.m. Saturday, the center of Fred was 150 miles west of Havana, Cuba, packing 35 mph winds, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Tropical depressions carry winds no greater than 38 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Fred is expected to track into extreme southwestern N.C. by about 2 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Hurricane Center map.
“Heavy rainfall looks like the main concern for the western Carolinas and northeast Georgia,” meteorologists with the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., posted on Twitter at 7 a.m. Saturday.
The amount of rain that could reach western N.C. remained uncertain on Saturday, according to the center.
Deep tropical moisture
But weather patterns virtually guarantee persistent rain for the Charlotte area, which has an 80% chance of precipitation Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and a 70% chance on Wednesday, according to the NWS forecast.
“Deep tropical moisture is poised to run up from the south ahead of the circulation associated with Fred,” NWS meteorologists said in a bulletin Friday.
“Some of the latest guidance shows Fred weakening inland long before it would make it this far north, but at that point it might be academic,” according to the bulletin. “Even if the circulation of Fred was washed out, we would still probably have all the ingredients we need for heavy rain ... from Monday into Wednesday.”
In a weather update on Saturday morning, the NWS said: “Even without Fred, we may have problems. Tuesday might have the best potential for heavier rain as another surge of moisture takes place ... High precip probably will continue Tuesday night and Wednesday...”
Although Fred's track has shifted farther west, heavy rainfall is still likely early next week. This is because tropical moisture from Fred is expected to interact with a frontal boundary draped across the Carolinas. #ncwx #scwx #gawx pic.twitter.com/pgoj7cKxb4
— NWS GSP (@NWSGSP) August 14, 2021