Brent's Top 5 Extreme Weather Events of 2018

Published: Jan. 1, 2019 at 12:23 PM EST
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It rained, then rained some more. In fact, Roanoke had 150 days of rain in 2018. Some areas in southern Roanoke county topped 80" of rain for the year. That's almost double what Roanoke would typically see in an entire year.

While rain was certainly the more widespread weather story of the year, it wasn't the only extreme weather event that took center stage.

In the nearly two decades forecasting weather in southwest Virginia, I don't ever remember a more active year fromt start to finish. From remnant hurricanes, to floods, to tornadoes and winter storms, we covered just about every type of severe weather during the 12 month period. Here's a look back at some of the memorable moments in no particular order.


2018 started with frigid conditions on New Year's Day (we hit 4° in early January), February was just the opposite. A lull in the snow action and large east coast ridge led to a mid-winter warm up. Highs reached the low 80s in several areas in February before winter made a late-season comeback in March.

After several March snowfalls, Roanoke hit 10.5" for the month, making it into the top 10 snowiest on record. We even had snow after the start of Spring, a rare occasion.



It was one of the most humid Spring and Summers ever for many areas. Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto pumped in tropical air, and It seemed every day was more muggy than the last. That tropical air kept overnight temperatures from dropping, leading to the warmest May on record for the Roanoke Valley.

Dozens of slow-moving storms led to flash flooding and mudslides across the region, including the Cave Spring area of Roanoke county, and Greenfield in Botetourt county.



The tropics turned very active in September and October. Hurricane Florence was a slow-moving hurricane that drenched the Carolinas with historic rainfall for several days before slowly drifting northward into Virginia. While we managed to miss the worst of the rain, flash flooding and river flooding did occur.

In October, Hurricane Michael developed and was the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane to make landfall in the United States in terms of pressure, behind the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and Hurricane Camille of 1969. It was also the strongest Atlantic hurricane to form in the month of October since Hurricane Wilma.

Upon landfall, Michael's remnants made its way into already soaked southwest and central Virginia, dropping anywhere from 5-10" of rain and producing extremely strong wind gusts which toppled trees already vulnerable due to the heavy rain. Tens of thousands were left without power.

The rainfall led to record flooding along the Dan River at South Boston.



2018 was one of the least active years for tornadoes on record in the United States. The country saw no "violent" tornadoes (EF-4 or EF-5) in 2018. This is the first time in recorded history that this has happened.

Turns out, it was a very active year for tornadoes in our area. Six tornadoes struck during an April 15 outbreak in Central Virginia, Southside Virginia, and in the mountains of Craig county.

The EF-3 tornado that struck Elon, VA was one of only 12 EF-3 tornadoes in the nation in 2018, and the first tornado to ever hit the City of Lynchburg.

Fortunately, 2018 was also the least deadly on record when it came to tornadoes, with only 10 tornado-related fatalities. This is the lowest number on record since 1875.



The recurring theme in 2018 was the record rainfall. Roanoke, Lynchburg and Danville ended the year with historic rainfall totals, topping 60". Never since records have been kept have those areas seen that much rain. Others measured even higher annual totals, including nearly 70-80" of rain along the Southern Blue Ridge mountains.

While the rainy pattern will continue into 2019, history rarely repeats itself with back-to-back records rainy years.



When it comes to covering the weather, our technology and scientific background only goes so far. We need viewers and spotters like you on the ground and in the field to assure us what we "think" is happening, actually is.

From all of us at WDBJ7 Weather, we thank you for taking the time to send us photos, videos and reports throughout the year. They were invaluable. Thank you also for your questions. Allowing us to answer them on-air helps educate the public and keeps our job fun.

Let's hope 2019 is memorable, but for all the right reasons. Happy New Year and thanks for your support.