Elsa mostly spares Charlotte, but heavy rains topple trees, knock out power for hundreds

Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Elsa left hundreds of Duke Energy customers throughout the Charlotte region without power on Thursday.

At one point, at least 1,300 Duke customers in south Charlotte lost service in the morning.

The downpours likely loosened soil, causing trees to topple onto power lines, meteorologist Rodney Hinson of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., told The Charlotte Observer.

Gusts associated with Elsa on their own weren’t strong enough to knock trees down, he said.

Gusts reached 30 mph in Monroe and 22 mph at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Thursday morning, Hinson said. That left heavy rain as the likeliest culprit, he said.

The heaviest rains fell in Union County, beginning a couple of hours before daybreak, according to the meteorologist.

At 10:30 a.m., however, Duke Energy reported no outages in Union County.

At 11:15 a.m., about 620 customers in Charlotte’s Madison Park neighborhood and another 500 in areas near South Mecklenburg High School were without power In southern Mecklenburg, restoring power was expected to take until 2:45 p.m., according to the Duke Energy outage map.

Another 424 customers in Mooresville had no power in the early afternoon.

A cluster of nearly 150 customers in west Charlotte also lost power, according to the company.

By 3:30 p.m., power had been restored to all but 90 customers in Mecklenburg County, the outage map showed. All but a handful of customers in Mooresville also had their power back.

Duke Energy crews were seen removing tree branches from power lines on Quail Hollow Road near Cameron Forest Lane in south Charlotte, Observer news partner WBTV reported on Twitter.

A large tree toppled onto West Fourth Street west of uptown, closing the street from Grandin Road to Walnut Avenue, the station reported.

Part of a tree fell on a truck on McClintock Road in Plaza-Midwood, according to the station.

At 8 a.m. Thursday, the main threat from Elsa in the Charlotte area was heavy rainfall “generally along and east of the I-77 corridor and isolated heavy rainfall to the west,” the NWS Greer office said on Twitter.

Flash flooding was possible as Elsa moved across the Carolinas, the National Hurricane Center reported in a bulletin at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Tropical storm conditions were expected along the N.C. coast later Thursday, according to the Hurricane Center, before Elsa was expected to move north into the Mid-Atlantic, New York, New England and Canada.