Tornado watch continues as storm moves out of Charlotte area

There is a tornado watch for most of the Piedmont area until 7 p.m. Wednesday. As of 3:45 p.m., most of the severe storm has moved out of the Charlotte region.

An earlier tornado warning for Catawba, Lincoln, Alexander and Iredell counties expired, with some initial unconfirmed damage reports in the area.

A high wind warning is in effect until 7 p.m.

Taylorsville Fire Department says there are reports of trees down in the western part of Alexander County. They're on their way to take a look at any potential damage.

All of Alexander County school went into their tornado warning protocol as the severe weather hit their area. 

Early Wednesday afternoon, there were also strong storms moving through York County, headed toward Rock Hill.

The Wednesday forecast for the Carolinas calls for possible flash flooding and severe thunderstorms, including damaging winds, hail and isolated tornadoes.

Governor McCrory has notified the state's seven Urban Search and Rescue Teams and seven hazardous materials Regional Response Teams to be on standby in preparation for the sever weather that is predicted for NC Wednesday.

The forecast is calling for damaging wind gusts of 70+ miles per hour, up to 1-2" hail and the possibility of one or more tornadoes across much of the central and eastern parts of the state.

Strong thunderstorms are expected to move across central NC between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Most of the state is under a slight risk for severe weather meaning the storms will likely be short-lived. Areas east of I-77 and into central and eastern NC will have the greatest risk for numerous severe storms that are more likely to be widespread and intense.

A flood watch is in effect through 7 p.m.

“I urge all North Carolinians today to review their severe weather and tornado safety plans for home, work and school,” said Governor McCrory. “Stay tuned to your local media, pay close attention to the weather and know where to go and how to stay safe. Take cover immediately if advised to do so.” 

North Carolina Emergency Management is reminding people to:

  • Know the terms: WATCH means Be Prepared: a tornado is possible. WARNING means Take Action: a tornado has been spotted; take shelter immediately.
  • Know where the nearest safe room is.
  • Home – go to the basement under the stairs or to an interior room on the lowest floor, away from windows.
  • Schools, hospitals, offices – go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor. Avoid long corridors with windows and large open areas with free span roofs like gyms.
  • High rise buildings – go to an interior hallway, bathroom or closet and stay away from windows.
  • Modular homes and vehicles – leave immediately and go to a sturdy building.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. Do not stop under an overpass or a bridge.
  • If you are outdoors, and there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris.

Emergency management officials cautioned that once the storm has passed, danger still lingers. After the storm, be sure to:

  • Wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves and gloves when walking on or near debris, and be aware of exposed nails and broken glass.
  • Be aware of damaged power or gas lines and electrical systems that may cause fires, electrocution or explosions

Download the FOX 46 weather app for a live interactive radar and weather forecasts for your neighborhood. It's available in the app store and Google play store today.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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