for the Washington and Baltimore Region
(last updated 3/25/2008)
Century Tropical Cyclones
1878 October 23
Not Named. A Category 2 hurricane hit the Washington/Baltimore
region. This is the strongest storm to ever hit this region since
record-keeping began in 1851.
1893 October 13-14
Not Named. A Category 1 hurricane moved through the region.
1896 September 30
Not Named. A Category 1 hurricane moved through western parts of
Century Tropical Cyclones
1933 August 23-24
Chesapeake Bay Hurricane. This storm made landfall near Virginia
Beach. The eye of the storm traveled up the west side of the Bay and
just to the west of Washington DC. This allowed the storm's strongest
winds to funnel water into the mouth of the bay and then northward right
up the Potomac. This storm caused record high tides up the entire west
side of the Chesapeake Bay and in Washington DC with damages the highest
ever recorded from a storm surge. In Washington DC, the surge reached 11
feet. This storm caused a total of 18 deaths and $79 million (adjusted
to 1969) in damages.
Naming of storms began in 1950
1952 September 1
ABLE. The storm reached the southwest section of the District of
Columbia in the early morning hours of Sept.1st. It was
attended by heavy rains and winds of 30 to 40 mph with occasional gusts
up to 50 mph. The peak gust reported at Washington National Airport was
60 mph. A small tornado did considerable damage to dwellings at
Franconia in Fairfax County. A tornado, which may have been the same
one, also struck with destructive force at Potomac, MD. Rainfall was
heavy, ranging from 2 to over 3 inches. Property damage in the area was
estimated to be in excess of $500,000 caused primarily by flooding and
the destructive force of the tornado. Falling trees and branches
disrupted power and telephone facilities.
1954 October 15
HAZEL. Last storm to bring hurricane force winds to
Washington DC. Hazel made landfall near Wilmington, NC by mid
morning on the 15th and by that afternoon the eye of the
storm was passing west of DC. This put the strongest winds across the
city. Reagan National Airport recorded sustained winds at 78 MPH with
gusts to 98 MPH. These records still stand today. Some of the
installations were damaged. Huge trees were uprooted and toppled falling
on cars, houses, roads, and utility lines. Many windows were blown out
and many roofs were damaged or torn off. There were 3 deaths in the
District, 13 in Virginia and 6 in Maryland. Many other people were
injured. Over a half of a million dollars (1954 dollars) in damage
occurred in the District with about $40 million in damages to Maryland
and Virginia. Historical database shows that this storm was already
extratropical when it moved through the area as it had already merged
with a front, so it can not be considered as hurricane, but a rather
strong extratropical storm.
1955 August 13
CONNIE. The eye of Connie moved up the Chesapeake Bay, across
Baltimore and into Pennsylvania. Connie dropped as much as 9.5 inches in
Prince Georges County and the storm's rainfall produced flooding on the
Monocacy River in Frederick County, on the Rock Creek in DC, and on the
Anacostia River in DC and Prince Georges County. The rains produced by
Connie saturated the soil and set the stage for the devastating floods
which followed the passage of Hurricane. 16 people were killed when a
small boat capsized in the Chesapeake Bay. Total damage in Virginia was
estimated at $1 million and $4 million dollars in Maryland.
1955 August 18
DIANE. Five days after Connie, Diane moved across central and
northern Virginia northeast through Baltimore County and into
Pennsylvania. The combined rains of Connie and Diane set new records
from Danville to Fredericksburg to Winchester to Staunton for the month
of August. Diane dropped an additional 10 inches of rain on the Blue
Ridge Mountains. The heaviest rains fell along the Skyline Drive area.
Luray recorded 8.82 inches of rain from Diane, when combined with
Connie's rainfall, helped set a new monthly record of near 20 inches.
Big Meadows also set a new record for August with nearly 24 inches.
Baltimore set a new record with 18.35 inches.The heavy rains resulted in
flash flooding along the piedmont and over the Shenandoah Valley. Water
flowed into nearby rivers causing the heaviest flooding on the
Shenandoah and Rappahannock rivers. The Rappahannock River crested 8.5
feet above flood stage in Remington setting a new record and 11.5 feet
above flood stage at Fredericksburg.
1969 August 20
CAMILLE. The strongest hurricane to hit the United States in
modern meteorological times. After making landfall in Mississippi as
a Category 5 on August 17, it weakened rapidly as it moved northward.
Camille came back to life as it moved eastward into Virginia. On August
19, torrential rains lasting more than eight hours caused flash floods
and mudslides along the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Early on the 20th, Camille intensified as it passed south of
Roanoke and Lynchburg. Rainfall increased rapidly to the northeast of
the low-pressure center along the western slopes of the Blue Ridge
Mountains. Downtown Waynesboro was submerged under 8 feet of water from
the South River. In Amherst and Nelson Counties, many communities were
partially destroyed along with highways, bridges, utilities, and
railways. In Nelson County, Camille dumped 31 inches of rain in six
hours and more than 133 bridges were wiped out. Residents remembered the
rain as resembling a massive waterfall. The rainfall continued to
increase on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, reaching
catastrophic proportions. These flash floods and landslides constituted
the worst natural disaster ever to affect the state of Virginia. Most
residents were asleep during the storm, which had been unpredicted.
There was no way to warn anyone of the impending catastrophe, because
phone lines were obliterated along with everything else by flash floods
barreling down creeks and rivers. At least 153 Virginians lost their
lives in Camille; of these, 126 were residents of Nelson County. After
the storm, only one highway in Virginia remained intact. Camille moved
off the coast on the afternoon of the 20th.
1972 June 22
AGNES. One of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history
with $2.1 billion in damages. Devastating floods occurred from North
Carolina to New York. 10 to 14 inches of rain fell over a broad area of
Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Major River flooding occurred on
the Rappahannock, Rapidan, and Potomac River Basins. At Wisconsin Avenue
in NW DC, the river rose 15.5 feet making it third worst flood in 100
years of history. In Virginia, there were 13 deaths and $126 million in
damages. In Maryland, there were 19 deaths and $110 million in damages
and in West Virginia there were $7.8 million in damages. In the District
of Columbia, two lives were lost when a family went wading in Rock Creek
and the two children were swept away from their parents. Dulles Airport
recorded 5.74 inches in one 6-hour period and 11.88 inches in the
24-hour period ending at 8AM June 22. A crest of 22 feet was reached at
Little Falls, 10 feet above flood stage but about 3 feet below the
record flood of March 1936. Numerous homes in the Seneca area were badly
damaged, as were recreational facilities along the river. At Wisconsin
Avenue in Washington DC, the river rose to 15.4 feet on June 24, 8 feet
above flood stage, but 2.3 feet below the record flood of 1942. While
the flood in the Washington area was not disastrous, it caused fairly
heavy damage to both private and public property.
1979 July 14
BOB. The remains of Bob produced flooding over
portions of West Virginia but the details are sketchy.
1979 September 6
DAVID. Hurricane David spawned eight tornadoes across the
greater Washington metro area. The strongest tornado was an F3 in
Fairfax County that tracked 18 miles, killing one and injuring six.
Fairfax County had $2.5 million in damages.
1985 July 25
BOB. Isolated tornadoes
were reported across Maryland and Virginia associated with this storm.
1988 August 29
Chris made landfall near Savannah, GA on the 28th and weakened to a
depression over South Carolina where it merged with a front. It then
traveled northeast across VA/MD/PA and into the northeast U.S. Rainfall
amounts were three to five inches across a large swath from SC through
PA and into the Northeast.
1996 July 13
BERTHA. Made landfall near Cape Fear, North Carolina and then moved
northeastward along the U.S East Coast, producing 40 to 50 knot
sustained winds causing widespread damage along the western shore of the
Chesapeake Bay. Bertha spawned three tornadoes, two in Calvert and one
in St. Mary's County. High winds and torrential rainfall left
approximately 45,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric customer without power
during the height of the storm. See
rainfall map for Bertha.
1996 September 6
FRAN. Hurricane Fran made landfall near Cape Fear, North
Carolina and weakened to a depression while moving through Virginia.
Fran dropped up to 16 inches of rain (see
rainfall map) in Big Meadows causing Record River flooding on the
Potomac River and the Shenandoah River. Old Town Alexandria was
partially evacuated as the river rose, flooding streets with more than
three feet of water. The Shenandoah National Park remained closed for
two weeks due to wind and flood damage. Rockingham County reported 40
homes destroyed and 105 homes with major damage. In Warren County, 250
homes were flooded with 50 sustaining major damage. Waynesboro also saw
major damage to its downtown area. Across Virginia, flooding from Fran
caused $350 million in damages and killed 6 people. Over 100 people were
rescued from flood waters. 560 thousand people in Virginia experienced
power outages. Wind gusts as high as 79 MPH were experienced at Big
Meadows. Scattered tree damage occurred throughout much of the state of
VA from the combination of strong winds and saturated soils. Tidal
flooding was also a problem on both the Potomac River and Chesapeake
Bay. A surge of 5.1 feet created moderate flooding along the Washington
Harbor. Some areas in lower Georgetown and along the marina reported
1999 September 16
FLOYD. Hurricane Floyd made landfall near Cape Fear, North
Carolina early on the 16th as a Category 2 hurricane. Floyd
weakened as it moved swiftly along the Delmarva Peninsula. Heavy
rainfall preceded Floyd over the Mid-Atlantic States due to a
pre-existing frontal zone and the associated overrunning. Totals of 12
to 14 inches were observed in Maryland. Wind gusts of 50 to 70 MPH
caused trees and power lines to come down. A 2 to 3 feet surge occurred
along the Chesapeake Bay due to strong southerly winds blowing ahead of
the storm. Minor flooding of low lying areas occurred in St. Mary's,
Calvert and Anne Arundel counties. In Virginia, there were 280,000
people without power at some point. Total damages in Virginia reached
$255 million with 64 jurisdictions affected. Three people lost their
lives directly related to the storm. In Maryland, there was one death
and over 250,000 customers without power at some point. See
rainfall map for Floyd.
2003 September 19
ISABEL. One of the most
significant tropical cyclones to affect the Chesapeake Bay region since
Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and the Chesapeake - Potomac Hurricane of 1933.
Isabel made landfall near Drum Point on the NC Outer Banks on the 18th
as a strong category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 105
mph. Isabel then traveled north northwestward losing its tropical
characteristics on the 19th over western Pennsylvania. Isabel
will be remembered for the very large field of tropical storm force
winds which caused a great deal of tree damage, the extensive flash
flooding in the Shenandoah Valley, and the unusually high storm surge
in the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River Basin. Fallen trees and
limbs were the overwhelming reason for widespread power failures and
damage and destruction to nearly 8,000 homes, which will likely made
Isabel as one of the most expensive storms. At the peak of the storm,
well over 2 million people were without power. Isabel is a reminder
that if the impacts of a Category 2 hurricane can be so extensive, the
impact of Category 3 or higher could be devastating.
Rainfall totals were generally in the 6 to 12
inches in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, 2 to 6 inches across
western Maryland and eastern West Virginia, and 1 to 3 inches across
Baltimore and Washington metro areas. Upper Sherando (Augusta County)
reported a storm total of 20.20 inches. Moderate to Major River flooding
occurred in the Potomac, Shenandoah, Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers. In
the city of Waynesboro, 300 people were evacuated and about $250,000
damage was caused to public property. Flood caused 2 to 3 feet of water
in downtown Waynesboro. Four people lost their lives mainly due to
rainfall map for Isabel.
Isabel also caused an unusually high storm surge
(6-8 feet above normal) in the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River Basin.
Storm surge in the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River reached the
highest levels since the Chesapeake/Potomac Hurricane of 1933.
Substantial flooding from storm surge was experienced by residents and
businesses in Baltimore, Annapolis, northern Virginia and Washington DC.
In Annapolis, the peak water level reached 6.44 feet MSL and caused
extensive damage at the Naval Academy. In Baltimore, the peak water
level reached 7.35 feet MSL. The most extensive flooding occurred at
Fell's Point and at the Inner Harbor, near downtown. Several feet of
water inundated streets and alleys there. Significant also occurred in
low-lying areas of Old Town Alexandria. Portions of King Street were
under as much as 5 to 6 feet of water. In Washington, DC (Georgetown at
the foot of Wisconsin Ave.), the water level reached 8.72 feet. The
headquarters of the police and fire harbor patrol at Water Street were
2004 September 17
IVAN. The remnants of Ivan spawned an outbreak of 117 tornadoes
over a 3 day period in the United States including 37 tornadoes in
Virginia, 6 in Maryland and 3 in West Virginia. A total of 32 tornadoes
occurred in the LWX forecast area. The strongest tornado was an F3 in
Fauquier County near Remington. There were no fatalities, but 12 people
suffered injuries. See
map of tornado paths. See rainfall
map for Ivan.
2004 September 28-29
JEANNE. The remnants of Hurricane Jeanne brought widespread
flooding to LWX forecast area. Rainfall amounts of 4 to 7 seven inches
were common across the entire region. The storm moved off the Mid
Atlantic coast on the 29th as an extratropical cyclone.
2005 July 8
CINDY. The remnants of Cindy moved northeastward along the
eastern slopes of the Appalachians of western Virginia as an
extratropical low and emerged off the Mid-Atlantic coast on the
afternoon on the 8th. The remnants of Cindy caused heavy
rains and localized floods in Virginia. More than five inches fell
across a large portion of the Appalachian Mountain region of Virginia.
here for rainfall map.
2006 September 1-2
ERNESTO. Ernesto reached the North Carolina/Virginia border as an
extratropical cyclone as it interacted with a pre-existing frontal zone.
A large area of high pressure over southeastern Canada combined with the
approaching Ernesto, prior to its landfall, to produce gale-force winds
and some rather heavy rains over and near the coasts of Virginia and
Maryland. This complex series of events resulted in some storm surge
flooding along the western shores of the Chesapeake Bay and the adjacent
rivers, where storm tides of up to about 6 feet where reported. In
Virginia, storm surge flooded several homes, and some piers and boats
were significantly damaged. Rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches fell
along the VA/MD coasts. See
rainfall map for Ernesto.
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Chesapeake and Potomac
Hurricane," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
Cobb, H.D., 1991: "The Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane of 1933,"
Weatherwise, 44, 24-29.
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Hazel," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Connie," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Diane," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Camille," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
Emanuel, K., 2005: "Hurricane Camille," Divine Wind The History
and Science of Hurricanes, 205-211.
Hurricane Camille, August 14-22, 1969: Preliminary Report: US DOC,
ESSA, Weather Bureau, Sept 1969.
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Agnes," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
Hurricane Agnes, June 18-21, 1972: Final Report of the Disaster
Survey Team on the Events of Agnes: US DOC, NOAA, February 1973.
Schwartz, R., 2007: "David," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Bertha," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
States, 290 pp.
Lawrence, M., 1996: Hurricane Bertha, 05-14 July 1996, Preliminary
Report, NOAA/NWS/TPC/NHC, Miami, FL.
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Fran," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
Mayfield, M., 1996: Hurricane Fran, 23 Aug - 8 Sept 1996, Preliminary
Report, NOAA/NWS/TPC/NHC, Miami, FL.
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Dennis and Floyd," Hurricanes and the Middle
Atlantic States, 294-296.
Pasch, R., Kimberlain, T.B., and Stewart, S.R., 1999: Hurricane
Floyd, 7-17 Sept 1996, Preliminary Report, NOAA/NWS/TPC, Miami, FL.
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Isabel," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
Beven, J., and H. Cobb, 2004: Hurricane Isabel, 6-19 Sept 2003,
Tropical Cyclone Report, NOAA/NWS/TPC/NHC, Miami, FL.
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Ivan," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
Stewart, S.R., 2005: Hurricane Ivan, 2-24 Sept. 2004, Tropical
Cyclone Report, NOAA/NWS/TPC/NHC, Miami, FL.
Schwartz, R., 2007: "Jeanne," Hurricanes and the Middle Atlantic
States, 325 pp.
Lawrence, M.B., and H.D. Cobb, 2005: Hurricane Jeanne, 13-28 Sept
2004, Tropical Cyclone Report, NOAA/NWS/TPC/NHC, Miami, FL.
Knabb, R.D., and M. Mainelli, 2006: Hurricane
Ernesto, 24 Aug - 1 Sept 2006, Tropical Cyclone Report, NOAA/NWS/TPC/NHC,