Hurricane Bonnnie damage in northeast North Carolina and southeast Virginia
                                                                                  August 27-28, 1998
 

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 the storm.
 
 

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
*   - Anemometer height 90 FT AGL
** - Anemometer height 100 FT AGL
 

The table below lists some of the rainfall amounts recorded in the storm.
 

Location Rainfall
Norfolk Airport (ORF) 6.77 inches
Norfolk Naval Air Station (NGU) 4.91 inches
Newport News (PHF) 2.60 inches
Portsmouth 2.44 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.