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Severe storms, tornadoes knock out power to 120,000 in Carolinas

October 24, 2017; 9:11 PM


The NWS has now confirmed 10 tornadoes in western NC, SC & Virginia, the same number, and in very similar areas to the ones they confirmed on October 8th. Here is a plot of both events together (click to enlarge). For detailed maps of each of Monday's tornadoes, see my WeatherMatrix Facebook post.

10/8 + 10/23 Tornado Tracks W Carolinas

Here's a list by the NWS:


As of Wednesday morning, 30,000 are still without power in the Carolinas, 10,000 of those being in Wilkes County. One Wilkes utility worker was killed trying to free a tree from power lines. Chimney Rock in North Carolina had their parking lot collapse and is closed indefinitely. I plotted out the track of the tornadic storms in western North & South Carolina on October 8th and 23rd and, interestingly, the tracks cross and many counties were affected twice:

Comparing Tracks of 10/8 & 10/23 Tornadic Storms in Western Carolinas

Below are all the warnings and storm reports issued during both events:

Warnings & LSRs 10/8 + 10/23 Western Carolinas

ORIGINAL REPORT 10/24: A line of severe storms swept through the Carolinas Monday evening October 23, knocking out power to over 120,000 people in the Duke Energy area alone. One particular storm left a trail of tornado warnings and reports over 100 miles long from Woodruff, SC to Fries, VA. To the west, widespread flooding occurred. In all, over 60 warnings were issued by the NWS and over 130 spotter reports were filed (IEM).

Carolinas Storm Reports 10/23

So far (6 PM Tuesday) six tornadoes have been confirmed in the western Carolinas and Virginia:

This map shows the counties where the NWS has issued reports of confirmed twisters. The investigations will continue Wednesday in Burke, Caldwell, Alexander and Catawba counties in North Carolina. Even if the damage has been determined to be from straight-line winds instead of a tornado, the damage is extensive.

Carolina Tornadoes Confirmed 10/23

At 5:30 PM, Catawba County, NC led the power outages by county in the Carolinas with nearly 30,000 customers in the dark. By 8 PM Monday, as many as 120,000 Duke customers in the Carolinas were offline. Remarkably, Tuesday morning at 11 AM, over 25,000 (85%) of Wilkes County's 30,000 customers were still without power. UPDATE: That had fallen to 20,000 at 1 PM and 11,000 at 7 PM Tuesday, when a total of 40,000 were still out in the Carolinas.

Power Outages 8 PM 10/23

I grew up in Wilkes County and experienced Hurricane Hugo in 1989, so I am familiar with the weather in the area. They also had a major windstorm there last year, and an EF-1 tornado moved from Ashe county (first on record) into Wilkes just over two weeks ago after Hurricane Nate slammed inland!

This is a before and after photo of Michael's Jewelry in downtown North Wilkesboro via Google and the NC EMA (click to enlarge):

Tornado Damage Before & After in North Wilkesboro, NC 10/23

The police also have drone aerials of the tops of the buildings in North Wilkesboro that were damaged. Susie Adams was inside the building when the tornado hit. Here is what it looked like from the inside:

N. Wilkesboro Tornado Damage 10/23

Damage was also done to the Hourglass Cleaners business at 106 Wilkesboro Avenue in North Wilkesboro (photo by Jerry Sink):

N. Wilkesboro NC Tornado Damage 10/23

Other photos from Wilkes County by various folks on the "Wilkes Roads" Facebook Group can be seen in this gallery:

And finally, a photo from the Hickory, North Carolina airport after the storm by the North Carolina EMA. Planes and cars were flipped!

Tornado Damage 10/23 - Hickory Airport

Flooding was worst in Boone, proving that even a few inches of rain can cause flash flooding in the mountains.

The storms started near Spartanburg, South Carolina, where an EF-2 tornado was confirmed.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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