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A Look Back: Four years since one of West Virginia’s deadliest floods

15 people died in Greenbrier county during flooding on June 23, 2016
Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 1:28 PM EDT
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GREENBRIER, WVa. (WDBJ) - Mountains and heavy rain have notoriously been a deadly combination. On June 23, 2016, multiple rounds of slow-moving thunderstorms settled in over the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia producing rainfall totals upwards of 8-10 inches in less than 12 hours time, resulting in one of the deadliest floods in West Virginia history and the deadliest flash flood event in the U.S. since 2010.

A majority of the heaviest rain was situated over the Kanawha, Fayette, Nicholas, Summers and Greenbrier counties in West Virginia, which experienced what is considered to be a 1,000-year flood.

The storms were associated with an almost stalled front which helped to focus extremely humid air over the area. The mountainous terrain likely not only enhanced the rainfall, but also forced the rain to drain rapidly into the valleys - resulting in catastrophic flash flooding, historic river flooding, and 23 fatalities in West Virginia. 15 of those were in Greenbrier county.

GREENBRIER COUNTY

Approximately 8 to 10 inches of rain fell in less than a 12-hour period in the most severely impacted areas of Greenbrier County, WV. The Greenbrier River at Alderson, WV reached 22 feet, its 3rd highest on record. The last time it was this high was in January 1996 due to rain and snowmelt.

  • Thousands of homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed.
  • Road repair costs alone were expected to exceed 50 million dollars.
  • The fatalities were the highest in the state of West Virginia since November 1985 floods when 47 died.
  • More than 2000 people were temporarily displaced.
  • A State of Emergency was declared by the Governor of West Virginia for 12 counties.

Record flooding at Dunlap Creek near Covington, Virginia (16.49 ft) occurred. The previous record was from Agnes remnants in June 1972.

The Greenbrier Classic golf tournament was scheduled to start on July 7, but was cancelled due to the floods. Instead, the Greenbrier Resort took in about 200 people that were displaced by the flooding.

PGA golfer Bubba Watson was at the resort preparing for the tournament and posted this video during the flooding.

12 HOUR RAINFALL TOTALS FROM THE STORM

LOCATION12 HOUR RAINFALL
GREENBRIER COUNTY
Maxwelton9.67″
White Sulpher Springs9.17″
Rainelle7.67″
Knob5.16″
ALLEGHANY COUNTY
Covington5.59″
Callaghan4.32″
Gathright Dam4.22″
Natural Well3.64″

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