Strong storms, heavy rain flood mountain region

Strong storms, heavy rain flood mountain region


by KATIE KILLEN / NBC Charlotte & Charlotte Observer

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 7:14 AM

Updated Sunday, Oct 27 at 9:45 AM

BOONE, N.C. -- Residents in Watauga County have seen a little bit of everything in the last 24 hours. 

The mountain region continues to deal with chilly temperatures and slick roads.  The wind was whipping as many folks woke up Thursday morning. 

The variety of weather has been nearly unbearable for many residents.

"It's crazy, I mean or goes from rain to snow. So, who knows what's coming next," said Watauga County resident Shawna Rubin. 

Boone resident Eric Church is a painter and had to work Thursday. 

"It's the craziest thing I've ever seen. Last night, I was watching the NewsChannel and watching all the cars go by in the water. Now it's all snow. Only in Boone," he said.

Watauga County schools cancelled classes Thursday.  Appalachian State University student were forced to brave the elements.  They were on a normal schedule. 

"I had a class at 3 and when I was going into the class it wasn't raining at all and when I got out at 5 my car was flooded," said one student.

The Boone Mall parking lot, which frequently floods in heavy rain situations, had about 3 feet of water at 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to several reports.

(Photos: Storm damage across the U.S.)

While it rained for more than six hours, the heaviest precipitation fell between 4 and 6:30 p.m. The Boone airport reported more than 5 inches of rain in a two-hour period and 2 1/2 inches in a 45-minute span from 4:30 to 5:15 P.M.

"I got out of class around 4:45 p.m. and I went to drive and  could not get through 321 at all," Jackie Smith said. "I saw three ambulances with 10 minutes of being on the road."

The Boone Fire Department reported mudslides on several roads late Wednesday afternoon.

Shortly after 5:30 p.m., social media reported at least one person was being rescued from high water on Shulls Mill Road, in the Foscoe community.

By very early Thursday morning, the temperature dropped and rain turned to snow.  Officials worried the standing water would turn to ice. 

They're urging motorists to use caution during the Thursday commute.

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In Dilworth, a TV news reporter was hospitalized after she was struck by a car while reporting on the outages at the darkened intersection of Morehead Street and Kenilworth Avenue.

Elsewhere in the city, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police directed traffic where lights had gone out or were flashing at intersections near Northlake Mall, at Albemarle Road and Interstate 485 ramp, near SouthPark Mall at Morrison Boulevard and Sharon Road and at East Arrowood Road and South Boulevard.

Streams also were out of their banks in Ashe County, and flash flooding was reported in Valle Crucis.

In Avery County, authorities reported flooding on N.C. 181 and on Mullen Hill Road, off N.C. 19. The Linville River was rising rapidly early Wednesday evening, threatening to cover a roadway bridge.

(Watch: Latest forecast)

The western edge of the foothills counties – western Caldwell, northwest Burke and northern Rutherford – also were included in the flash flood warning. Meteorologists reported nearly 3 inches of rain had fallen between 1 and 5 p.m. on the east side of the Blue Ridge.

In Buncombe County, law enforcement officials reported high water had closed U.S. 70 near Black Mountain. Widespread flooding also was reported in Henderson County, near Hendersonville.

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The storms moved east of the Charlotte area late Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to tumble, dropping into the 40s for Thursday.