Severe storms swept through the Charlotte area Sunday afternoon, downing trees, disrupting travel, dropping hail the size of golf balls and causing tens of thousands of residents to lose power.
Two possible tornadoes touched down in Reidsville and in Greensboro, where one death was reported.
The Charlotte Fire Department said it responded to “numerous” calls about trees blown down by wind gusts onto houses and power lines.
Interstate 77 had to be closed in both directions for hours because of fallen power lines near Exit 30 in Davidson, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. The closure caused massive traffic backups on I-77 as well as on Main Street through Davidson and Cornelius. The interstate reopened around 8 p.m.
Trees fell on houses around the region, reports said. One hit a home five minutes' west of uptown on Marlowe Avenue off Wilkinson Boulevard. More were reported in the Mountain Island Lake area and in Huntersville, where 10 roads were blocked by fallen trees.
Winds flattened a Huntersville barn, sending pieces of the barn's metal roof into nearby trees, the Huntersville Fire Department said. But no one was injured, including animals.
In fact, one cow on the farm gave birth just after the storm passed, according to WBTV, the Observer’s news partner. The calf and mother were both doing well.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport recorded a wind gust of 68 mph at 3:25 p.mp.m. The air traffic control tower was evacuated during the storm, the airport said, and many flights were delayed or canceled during the 90-minute ground stop.
Hail the size of golf balls came down in Belmont and Cramerton.
About 20,000 Duke Energy customers in the Charlotte area were without power after the storms, according to the company’s outage map. Power was restored to about half of those by midnight.
Radar showed circulation in a thunderstorm near the Catawba River around 3:30 p.m., Observer correspondent Steve Lyttle reported, and Charlotte and adjacent counties were put under a tornado warning until the storm passed. A flash flood watch expired in Mecklenburg at 8 p.m.
A watch is the less serious form of weather alert and signals that you should be prepared for a possible tornado or flash flood, according to the weather service. A warning means you should take immediate action, because the dangerous weather event has actually been spotted. Warnings usually cover smaller areas than watches do.
WCNC meteorologist Brad Panovich used cupcakes to illustrate the difference between a watch and a warning on Twitter.
Gov. Roy Cooper warned people to stay safe Sunday and shared a weather map showing Charlotte inside a belt where numerous severe storms were coming.
Monday is forecast to be partly sunny, windy and cooler, with a high in the upper 50s and a low in the upper 30s.