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home : news : e-news November 25, 2020

8/8/2018 8:00:00 PM
Tornadoes Or Not--Damage Was Extensive (Updated)
US321 closed from Hardin exit to High Shoals exit until 9:15 Thursday morning

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning Wednesday afternoon at 5:25 PM.  Those who have signed up for the emergency alerts from Lincoln County got a message to their phones and/or email.  

The storm was part of a band of storms that caused damage in Cleveland County, then in Lincoln and Catawba and parts of Gaston. Hail was reported in several locations. Many lost their electric power for awhile, others overnight. Near High Shoals, what was believed to be a tornado struck at about 6 PM and uprooted several large trees, snapped others into pieces, and trapped some residents in their neighborhood after the roads were blocked by the fallen trees. Damage was extensive on Philadelphia Church Road and Salem Church Road as well as in the Gallagher Trails community (where our accompanying photos were taken). Based on the damage, some of it was caused by straight line winds but at other places, it appeared to have been from circulation like a tornado.

As of 8 PM Wednesday, Duke Energy still listed over 60 homes in the area east of Maiden without power; there were 80 without power in the Hickory area and other scattered outage across Catawba County.

In the High Shoals/Hardin area, over 1,700 homes were without electricity. In Cleveland County nearly 500 homes were still without power in the area east of Earl. In Gaston County, almost 100 homes were still without power near Stanley. Near Triangle, two separate outages still had nearly 300 homes without electricity, and over 50 homes off Bethhaven Church Road were without power.

With many more outages in other area counties, Duke and REA both said their crews were working as fast as they could but some would spend the night in the dark as a result of the storm damage. 

At 7 AM Thursday morning, the Duke Energy Outage Map still showed two big outages in southern Lincoln near High Shoals and upper Gaston in High Shoals, Hardin, etc. with 378 homes still listed as without electricity in one area and 1305 in another.  In Hickory, multiple outages had over 400 still without power.  Over 50 homes were still without electricity north of Maiden, over 200 near Kings Mountain, over 300 at two locations along Lake Norman in eastern Lincoln County, 85 in the Lowell area, and 50 in the Bethhaven Church Road area of Lincoln County.

The National Weather Service said there was no tornado but what was called a microburst, but several people reported seeing funnel clouds in different locations.  One of them a truck driver who was driving north on US321 and said a power line snapped during the storm and fell on top of his trailer. That halted traffic.

Another told us he also saw a funnel cloud while on US321.  Others reported seeing funnel clouds at other locations but we've been unable to get a photo of any.  Whatever it was, it did a lot of damage. 

The Department of Transportation closed down US321 between mile markers 17 and 18 and said it would remain closed until 8 AM Thursday morning.  Downed power lines were the reason.  The road finally reopend at 9:15 Thursday morning.

Commuters had to take a detour as a result. Those traveling north on the highway had to exit at Hardin Road, take old US321 north to High Shoals, and then can get back on the divided highway.  Those going south had to exit at High Shoals, take old US321 through High Shoals, then turn left onto Hardin Road to get back on US321 south. During Thursday morning rush hour, that meant backups of over a half hour.

After the power lines were downed, one woman told us she took Hardin Road to Philadelphia Church Road, only to find that a tree had blocked that road.  She had to backtrack to US321-business and go through High Shoals to get to Lincolnton.

Many trees had been cleared by early Thursday and power restoration continued, but it will take most of the day before all the roads are fully cleared and all homes have electricity restored.

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