A look back at the damage hurricanes have caused locally

By  | 

On average, looking at statistics, the area has seen a major impact from a remnant hurricane or Tropical Storm at least once every decade.
2003: Hurricane Isabel
1996: Hurricane Fran
1985: Hurricane Juan
1979: Hurricane David
1972:Hurricane Agnes
1969: Hurricane Camille
1955: Hurricanes Connie and Diane
1954: Hurricane Hazel
1940: August Hurricane
1945: September Hurricane

We have not seen a major impact since 2003.

HURRICANE ISABEL, SEPTEMBER 2003
Rainfall: 4"-20"
Max total rainfall: 20.20 in Upper Sherando
Shenandoah Valley Damages: $29 million
Local deaths: A man canoeing in flood waters drowned in Harrisonburg, Two others drowned in a horse and buggy after crossing a low water bridge in Rockingham County.

Isabel was not just known for the heavy rain and flash flooding, but also the damaging winds that caused millions of power outages and down trees.

Isabel's heavy rain created flash flooding that lead to bridges washed away, and several homes damaged or destroyed. hundreds of people had to be evacuated.

Major flooding occurred along the South river in Waynesboro and tributaries, and along the Shenandaoh River.
The South river rose rapidly and crested at 13.9 feet which caused major flooding downtown. More than 300 people had to be evacuated.

Even though inland flooding is the biggest threat locally, remnant hurricanes can still bring strong winds. With Isabel, sustained winds ranged from 25–50 mph, and some gusts up to 60 mph. This caused numerous down trees and power lines, causing power outages.
According to the National Weather Service, 13 homes were destroyed and many had more than a foot of mud in their houses.

Rainfall:
Big Meadows 11.10"
Skyland (SNP) 9.54"
Ida (Page county) 8.59"
Stuarts Draft: 6.50"
Grottoes: 6.25"
Waynesboro: 6.11"
Bayard, WV 5.28"
New Market: 4.50"
Dale Enterprise: 4.17"

HURRICANE FRAN, SEPTEMBER 1996
In 1996, preceding weather conditions played a big role on how bad the impact was.
Looking back at 1996, it all started with the big blizzard in January where more than 3' of snow fell across the area. There was also spring flooding and a summer full of thunderstorms, above average rainfall from May-September. Then the remnants of hurricane Fran moved through the area.

Rainfall: 4"-15"
Max total rainfall: 15.60" in Big Meadows
Local deaths: 5 people

Winds across the area ranged from 30- 40 mph. At elevations above 2000 feet,winds gusted as high as 79 mph.

Thousands of trees were snapped or uprooted.
Over 500 trees fell across the roadway of Skyline Drive alone.

Fran is most well known for the extreme river flooding it caused.
the Shenandoah River hit record levels at Lynnwood, Cootes Store, and Strasburg. The Shenandoah River in northwest Rockingham County is typically around 3 feet deep. Flood stage for this river is 15 feet. In September of 1996, this river crested at 28 feet.

Due to the timing during harvest season, many farmers lost all of their crops as the precious top soil was completely washed away.
It's estimated that 10,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes in Rockingham county.

In West Virginia, damage was excessive, especially along the South Branch Potomac. In Hardy County, most of the county roads were closed due to being washed out. Wells were damaged and many remained unusable months later due to bacteria contamination.

River sand and mud also covered streets and there were several landslides.

Local deaths: Two people in Augusta county were swept away while trying to cross a flooded bridge. One person in Highland county drowned when trying to cross a flooded area. One person in Pendleton county drowned while driving their car into flood waters. One person in Grant county drowned when they drive their tractor into flood waters.

Rainfall:
Luray: 14.30"
Waynesboro: 8.35"
Staunton: 7.78"
Wardensville: 5.88"
Franklin, WV: 5.80"
Dale Enterprise: 6.93"
Woodstock: 6.37"
Moorefield: 3.66"