History for the Washington and Baltimore Region
Note: For specific
storm damage at county level, go to the following address
for storms since 1996: http://www.erh.noaa.gov/lwx/Storms/Strmdata/
For storms since
1950, visit NCDC Web site: http://www4.ncdc.noaa.gov/cgi-win/wwcgi.dll?wwevent~storms
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
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
Naming of storms began in 1952
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.
1975 September17 Eloise.
Remnants of Eloise produced widespread heavy rainfall and flooding.
Totals included 14.23" in Westminster, MD, and 9.08" in Washington,
1979 July 14 BOB. The
remains of Bob produced flooding over portions of western 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.
1985 Sep 27 GLORIA. Once
Category-4 Gloria struck Cape Hatteras as a Category-2 storm, then
parralleled the Virginia and Maryland coastlines. Rainfall amounts
of over 6 inches and strong winds left nearly 200,000 people across
Virginia and Maryland without power.
1988 August 29 CHRIS. 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.
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 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.
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 drowning.
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 also flooded.
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
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.
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.
2008 - September 6 - HANNA
Storm Hanna made landfall on September 6, 2008 near Myrtle Beach,
SC and move
the day. The track of the cyclone stayed east of the Baltimore-Washington
metropolitan area. Maximum sustained winds generally averaged between
20-35 mph through the afternoon of the 6th.
Rainfall was a much bigger impact from this cyclone. The highest
rainfall total from this storm (9.65”) occurred in Woodbridge,
VA. Numerous reports of 7-9 inches of rainfall were received across
2011 - August 27-28 - IRENE
Hurricane Irene affected the Mid-Atlantic region on Saturday,
August 27 through Sunday, August 28, 2011. The tropical cyclone
was named a week prior on August 20, 2011 as the tropical wave
was entering the eastern Caribbean. The cyclone was upgraded
to a hurricane just before affecting Puerto Rico on August 21st.
The cyclone then turned northwest and then north, paralleling
the eastern seaboard of the United States, eventually making
landfall near Cape Lookout, North Carolina on the morning of
the 27th as a Category 1 Hurricane with maximum sustained winds
near 85 mph. Irene then travelled northeast, paralleling the
Mid-Atlantic coast. The center of the cyclone passed less than
15 miles off the coast of Ocean City just after 2 AM on August
28th, and then made a second landfall near Little Egg Inlet,
New Jersey around 5:35 am. Eventually, Irene weakened to a tropical
storm as it moved over New York City around 9 AM.
Locally, Irene will be remembered for producing
extensive tree damage due to its strong gusty winds and for its
across southern Maryland and along the western shoreline of
the Chesapeake Bay received the largest impact, although
extended west all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The
fallen trees resulted in nearly 1,000 homes being damaged, and
almost two dozen homes being destroyed.
addition, the wind and fallen trees resulted in nearly 2.5
million power outages in Virginia, and around 850,000 in
the District of Columbia. The amount of power outages in Virginia
was the second highest in Virginia history – just behind Isabel
in 2003. Early damage estimates in the days following the storm
topped $13 million in northern Virginia and central and southern
In terms of rainfall, a swath of 5-10 inches
of rainfall was reported to the west of the storm track. Communities
of Baltimore and Washington were within that area. Between
the Blue Ridge and Interstate 95, rainfall totals generally
between 2 and 4 inches, although it was lower in the Catoctin
Mountains in north central Maryland. The highest report within
northern Virginia and central and southern Maryland came
from Leonardtown, Maryland where 11.52 inches of rain fell.
St. Mary’s County Maryland received the heaviest rainfall,
averaging between 8 and 11 inches. Numerous roads were closed
due to flooding
from the heavy rainfall, primarily east of Interstate 95.
In addition, the river gauge on St. Clement Creek near Clements,
Maryland in St. Mary’s County set a new record level of 6.98
feet. Records at this location date back to 1968.
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