Zeta was no Hugo. In many ways Zeta more resembled Hurricane Hazel, a much fiercer storm that struck the Carolina coast as a category 4 hurricane in 1954 and moved quickly northward doing damage from Raleigh to Washington, DC, to New York and then striking Toronto, Canada less than three days later. Zeta packed no such punch, but moved quickly from the Gulf Coast to North Carolina and on northeastward in less than a day.
It was much 'as predicted.' Tropical Storm Zeta roared through far western North Carolina pouring lots of rain on the mountains and hitting the areas from the mountains to the Piedmont with high winds. The highest gusts in Lincolnton were 39 mph, but in Hickory, there were 59 mph gusts. Catawba County declared a state of emergency at 11:30 Thursday morning. Riverbend, Bakers Mountain, and St. Stephens Parks closed until due to downed trees and powerlines.
Both Duke Energy and Rutherford Electic had many power outages, some of them involving as many as a thousand customers. The worst of the outages were in Catawba County, but there were many in Lincoln and Gaston, less in Cleveland. The city of Lincolnton also had several outages. At 5 PM Thursday, REMC still had many single home outages; the larger outages in our area were 130 in southwestern Lincoln County just north of Cherryville and 388 in northwestern Lincoln County. At that point, Duke Energy had 19,000 without electricity in Catawba County, 3,000 in Lincoln, 2,000 in Gaston and 1,000 in Cleveland County.
By 10 PM, the Catawba County outages on the Duke system had been reduced to about 14,000. Great work in getting power restored--at one point over half the Duke customers in Catawba County were without electricity. It was even worse in Alexander County (outside our regular reporting area) where nearly 75% of customers were without power earlier in the day. Duke still had about a thousand customers in Lincoln County waiting for repairs at 10 PM Thursday.
By Saturday morning REMC had 206 customers still without power in Cleveland County, but Knew of none in Lincoln, Gaston or Catawba. If you are an REMC customer and don't have power, call them.
Duke Energy knew about 235 customers still without power in Lincoln County, 168 in Gaston, and 760 in Cleveland. Catawba County, which was hardest hit by the storm, still had over seven thousand customers without electricity.
In Lincoln County, the outages included one with 27 customers affected just south of Cat Square. They've been without power since about 9:30 Thursday morning. Duke said they may not have power restored there until Monday. Two other outages along Wehunt Store Road, one near Highway 274 and the other just west of there involved 115 customers. The smaller one with 31 customers was first reported Thursday afternoon, the other with 84 wasn't reported until Friday. In both cases, restoration wasn't guaranteed until Monday. Another along Roy Eaker Road just northwest of the Cherryville Walmart involves 40 customers without power since early Thursday morning. Likewise, restoration wasn't necessarily expected until Monday. 11 Duke customers near Killian Road and Corriher Farm Road were also still without power. Restoration there was also estimated for Monday. As noted, there were many more outages in Catawba County.
Thanks to continous work, crews were able to restore power more quickly than had been promised. By Sunday morning, only a few homes in Lincoln County were still without power. In Gaston County, the number was down to 82; in Cleveland County, 173. Outages in Catawba County had been reduced to about 3,000. These were widespread, some with just a handful of homes, others involving over 200 homes. Crews are still working round-the-clock. They've done an amazing job, but some will still be without electricity until Monday.
CLICK HERE to see the Duke Energy Outage Map.
Downed trees and limbs also blocked traffic in many locations. A tree fell on a car in Shelby, barely missing a house. In Newton, a tree fell and destroyed a school bus. There were other locations with significant damage. One residential Lincolnton street was still closed Thursday night. Jonas Drive between Kennedy Drive and Mockingbird Lane will be closed through Sunday. City crews completed clearing trees but a new utility pole is needed, and that will be installed Sunday afternoon. In Newton, NC10 between old NC16 and the new NC16 was still closed Thursday night.
The sun came out shortly after noon and while the wind continued, it diminished. There may be a few brief showers this evening as a cold front moves through. It will be gone by midnight and a sunny day is forecast for Friday. Temperatures will be much colder this weekend and by Monday night, we could see a freeze warning.