USA – Deadly Flash Floods in North Carolina

Around 250mm (9 inches) of rain fell in 48 hours in parts of North Carolina, causing deadly flash flooding.

Flooded roads in North Carolina after heavy rain 10 to 12 November 2020. Photo: NCDOT

The National Weather Service in Raleigh reported 249.43mm / 9.82 inches of rain fell in Rocky Mount in 48 hours to 12 November. The heavy rain was brought moisture from Tropical Storm Eta colliding with a cold front.

Rainfall in North Carolina, 10 to 12 November 2020. NWS Raleigh

Severe flash flooding was reported across North Carolina, in particular in Alexander, Wake and Iredell Counties and areas of Charlotte. North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) said “the rain caused hundreds of road closures, a few interstate shutdowns and some bridge washouts.”

At least 3 people died and 31 were rescued after a flash floods swept through a camping ground near the South Yadkin River in Alexander County. Three other people are thought to be still missing. In a separate incident, 1 person died in Alexander County when flood waters destroyed a bridge.

The South Yadkin River at Mocksville jumped from 3.5 feet early on 11 November to 24.57 feet early 13 November, beating the previous record high of 22.6 feet set in 1929.

Levels of the South Yadkin River near Mocksville reached record highs on 12 November 2020. Image: NWS / NOAA

Other flood-related fatalities were reported in Wake County (1) and Iredell County (2). In Charlotte, flash flooding prompted the evacuation of a school. The Fire Department said they rescued 143 people.

After prolonged heavy rainfall, river levels in the area are expected to stay high for some time. North Carolina Emergency Management said: “Though the rain is clearing, it will take time for the flooding of streams, creeks and roadways to subside. Several gauges are currently at Moderate or Major Flood Stage with several areas predicted to continue rising throughout the week.”

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