Four months pass since tornado hit Mecklenburg, Cabarrus counties

by: John Ahrens Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It's been four months since a tornado destroyed several homes in northeast Charlotte and nearby Harrisburg.

The National Weather Service didn’t issue a warning before that tornado. Meteorologist John Ahrens talked to our counterparts at the NWS, who learned some valuable lessons from the storm.

The weather service compiled a 29-page report covering everything that was going on in the atmosphere that night. They admit there was some indication of rotation in the radar at Charlotte Douglas, but the rain was coming down so heavy, it was hard to tell if it there was real rotation.

The biggest reason they did not issue any kind of watch or warning is because there was no damage from the storm as it moved out of South Carolina.

There was a very small area in east Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties where the winds were going in different directions. The storm produced a brief tornado there, causing massive damage in just seconds.

“You don't have a lot of time to react,” Meteorologist Larry Gabric said.

Gabric said the big change in the atmosphere happened in such a small area, it was difficult for them to spot. He admits they need to be more prepared for such a possibility next time.

“Situational awareness needs to be very, very focused when there is some form of front moving across the area,” he said.

Eyewitness News asked if they could do it over again, would they at least issue a thunderstorm warning to activate weather radios? He said no, because the storm hadn't produced any damage as it moved from South to North Carolina.

More information:
March 2012 tornado