Updated at 4:30 a.m. ET
Alberto is pushing deeper inland after making landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Memorial Day, causing flash flooding, mudslides, downed trees and power outages through parts of the South, East and central U.S. and prompting officials to warn of an imminent dam failure in North Carolina.
Flooding and mudslides shut down highways in the mountains of North Carolina, west of Charlotte.
Shortly after midnight, the National Weather Service and local authorities in McDowell County, North Carolina, issued evacuation warnings for people living downstream of Lake Tahoma, where they said a dam failure is “imminent.”
It included people living in Old Fort, a largely rural area about an hour from Asheville. It was not clear how many people were affected by the evacuation order.
However, as of 4 a.m. ET, there was no further word on the dam and the evacuation was expected to remain in place until daybreak, when engineers would be able to assess the situation.
Brad Panovich, a meteorologist at WCNC-TV in Charlotte, reports that the interstate is closed at mile marker 67 due to a landslide with people trapped in their cars. The North Carolina Department of Transportation says only that I-40 is closed near Old Fort. It is unclear if this or other closures would affect the evacuations.
The Charlotte Observer writes:
“Shortly before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, a mudslide closed both directions of Interstate 40 in McDowell County, according to McDowell County Emergency Management.
No people or cars were trapped, according to a 10:26 p.m. tweet by Jeff Crum, chief meteorologist with Spectrum News North Carolina. ‘Details are subject to change as a better understanding of the unfolding situation is clarified by EMA folks in McDowell County,’ he added.”
Flash flood warnings have been issued for several other western counties in North Carolina, with the NWS cautioning that resulting landslides and rapidly rising waterways have created a life-threatening situation.
Separately, the NWS forecasts that the Catawba River, which runs west of Charlotte, will crest at 18 feet above flood stage by 7 a.m. Wednesday. Various Western North Carolina counties’ emergency services were taking half-hourly readings of the river where it flows by residential areas, according to Matt Bush of Blue Ridge Public Radio in Asheville.
Although Alberto, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, was downgraded to a subtropical depression soon after it made landfall on Monday, its affects have continued to be felt, even at the fringes of the system.
Among other things, it has left 25,000 people in Alabama without power.
“We’ve had a lot of rain, but we got lucky. It was a constant rain but not a heavy rain,” Regina Myers, emergency management director in Walker County northwest of Birmingham, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying.
By late Tuesday, Alberto’s center was moving over western Kentucky.
As we reported on Tuesday, a local news crew – a reporter and photographer – were killed in North Carolina while covering the storm when a tree fell on their vehicle.