On the evening of August 27, 1998 re-intensifying Tropical Storm Bonnie was moving through northeastern North Carolina into the Atlantic Ocean. A spiral rainband on the northern edge of the storm moved through northeast North Carolina into southeast Virginia between 5:00 and 10:00 PM EDT on the evening of August 27th.
Sustained winds of 45 to 50 mph with gusts to 70 mph battered portions of Chesapeake, Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach at the height of the storm. Winds of this magnitude brought down 100 year old trees in many locations in Hampton Roads and ripped power lines to the ground as well. An estimated 300,000 Virginia Power Customers were without power in southside Hampton Roads alone. This was one of the largest localized power outages in the history of Virginia.
The number of residents without power during Hurricane Bonnie exceeded the number of outages reported during Hurricane Gloria in September 1985. The combination of locally high storm surges, tree damage and power outages makes Hurricane Bonnnie the most significant tropical system to affect the Hampton Roads area since Hurricane Donna in September 1960.
Unfortunately there was one fatality in the storm. A 12 year old girl was killed in Currituck County, N.C. when a tree was blown unto her home shortly after Midnight EDT August 28th.
The table below lists some of the highest wind gusts recorded in
|Location||Highest Sustained Wind/Time||Highest Gust/Time|
|Norfolk Airport (ORF)||NE 40 mph/914 PM 8/27||NE 64 mph/941 PM 8/27|
|Norfolk Naval Air Station (NGU)||NE 42 mph/655 PM 8/27||NE 55 mph/715 PM 8/27|
|Langley Air Force Base (LFI)||ENE 53 mph/755 PM 8/27||NE 67 mph/755 PM 8/27|
|Oceana Naval Air Station (NTU)||NE 44 mph/856 PM 8/27||NE 62 mph/1152 PM 8/27|
|Cape Henry *||NE 81 mph/1100 PM 8/27||NE 104 mph/1100 PM 8/27|
|Chesapeake Light Station **||NE 78 mph/1150 PM 8/27||NE 93 mph/1150 PM 8/27|
|Wallops Island (WAL)||NE 93 mph/1200 AM 8/28|
|Elizabeth City, NC||N 59 mph/1126 PM 8/27||N 73 mph/1133 PM 8/27|
The table below lists some of the rainfall amounts recorded in the
|Norfolk Airport (ORF)||6.77 inches|
|Norfolk Naval Air Station (NGU)||4.91 inches|
|Newport News (PHF)||2.60 inches|
|Richmond (RIC)||.80 inches|
|Wallops Island (WAL)||.40 inches|
|WFO Wakefield||1.82 inches|
|Elizabeth City, NC||1.42 inches|
|Ocean City, MD||1.58 inches|
The WSR-88D Base Reflectivity image with surface observations overlain
from 2200 UTC (600 PM EDT) August 27th indicates
the spiral rainband responsible for the heavy wind damage across southeast
Virginia. Note the highest surface winds within the enhanced reflectivity
signatures. Winds outside the enhanced reflectivity band were noticeably
weaker. Succesive images from 2300
UTC (700 PM EDT) August 27th indicate the spiral band pushing further
north into the Hampton Roads area and Northampton County on the Eastern
Shore of Virginia.
The image from 0000 UTC (800 PM EDT) August 28th indicates the spiral band remaining quasi-stationary across Hampton Roads and the lower Chesapeake Bay region.
Finally the images from 0100 UTC (900 PM EDT) August 28th and 0200 UTC (1000 PM EDT) August 28th show the spiral band essentially remaining quasi-stationary across Hampton Roads.
Tides at Sewells Point, Virginia rose very rapidly with the onset of sustained tropical storm force winds in southeastern Virginia. Tidal departures were less than a foot above normal prior to the onset of tropical storm force winds at 5:00 PM EDT. Departures rose to nearly 4 feet above normal just after the time of high tide at 9:00 PM...less than 4 hours later. The actual water levels reached 6.0 FT above Meal Lower Low Water (MLLW) which resulted in locally moderate flooding in portions of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton and Virginia Beach.
The time section of tidal departures
below indicates a rapid increase in the departures from 2.2 feet above
normal to nearly 4 feet above normal between 1800 (600 PM EDT) to 2200
(1000 PM EDT) hours.