The following are the top five weather events of 2012 across the Blacksburg Forecast Area as voted by our staff.
A derecho of historic proportion rolled through the region and caused widespread, significant damage which caused the greatest number of power outages in Virginia's history for a non-tropical storm. Locally, a firefighter died after he was injured when a tree fell on him while responding to a call. Power was out for up to 12 days in some regions. A prolonged period of unusually warm temperatures combined with the loss of power, may have resulted in a heat-related fatality in Bedford. More on this can be found in our Fall 2012 newsletter.
Strong northwest winds and heavy upslope snow occurred in favored higher elevations, lasting for 24-48 hrs. 1-2 feet of snow with significant drifting was observed in the higher elevations. Winds gusted into the 50-60 mph range, with one gust to 70mph at the Ashe County Airport in Jefferson, NC. More information on Sandy can be found in our event summary.
Below normal rainfall in the late winter and early spring months combined with an extended period of unseasonably warm, dry conditions across the region in early April set the stage for some of the most significant wildfires in Virginia's history. Back-to-back windy, dry, cold frontal passages following a 14-day period of only five percent of normal rainfal, in addition to temperatures running 15 to 20 degrees above normal leading up to the Easter weekend, set the stage for a complex of five major wildfires across west central and northern Virginia. According to the U.S. Forest Service close to 40,000 acres were burned.
Extensive flooding was reported across northern and eastern Franklin County. Nine vehicles were reported having been stranded in flood waters along Highway 122. Two sixty-inch culverts were washed out at the Windy Ridge Farm sub-division, leaving the community cut-off to outside access for the fifteen residents living there. Other roads sustained minor damage by flood waters. Rainfall amounts of eight to nine inches fell in the warned area.
From January 1st through October 31st, the average temperature at Roanoke and Bluefield was the warmest on record. It was the 2nd warmest Jan.-October on record for Blacksburg, and the 6th warmest for Danville. The warmest winter on record in Bluefield, the second warmest winter on record in Roanoke, and the warmest July on record in Roanoke contributed to this lengthy period of record warmth. Here's an image courtesy of the Southeast Regional Climate Center, of observed mean temperature rankings, and you can see that several locations in the region are ranked at number 1 or 2 on record.