Monday marks 70 years since Stokesville flood

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STOKESVILLE, VA. Before June 17, 1949, the ground was already very saturated by recent rains. A tropical low moved from Georgia into the Mid-Atlantic. This was not a named storm, but a very moist, humid air mass.

Photo submitted to WHSV by Alan Cramer

The rain was enhanced along Shenandoah Mountain because of the terrain. Air rising around low pressure was forced to rise even more on the eastern slopes of the mountain.
The weather recording station at the North River Dam recorded 7.25" of rain in a matter of hours.

The USGS estimates that rainfall would have been between 10"-15" along Shenandoah mountain. This led to nearly 100 landslides in the area. The forest was also very bare because of the logging industry at the time. This led to the massive runoff of water.

Miraculously, no one perished in Stokesville during the flood. However, the heavy rain sent area rivers rising, quickly. The North and Dry rivers quickly rose and some were washed away in the flood waters.
Four people died in Bridgewater due to flooding.

Before the storm, only one dam was in place. After the storm, the town of Bridgewater built the flood control levee. It was decided that more flood control dams were needed, and nine additional dams were built over a period of years.

These dams and flood control levees are vital to the area, and have prevented future flooding disasters (flooding in 1996, 1985) from becoming worse than they already were.