A look at why central Virginia gets serious, deadly hurricane ‘leftovers’

Weather

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — As crews brace for the potential of severe weather this week, 8News is taking a deeper look into why central Virginia seems to be a gathering place for hurricane remnants, and the storms produced because of them.

Some of the storms that have made deadly impacts in our area include Hurricanes Camille and Isabel.

In 1969, Hurricane Camille killed more than 259 people in the U.S. and caused $1.42 billion in damages, which is equivalent to $9.9 billion in 2019. The catastrophic hurricane also flash flooding in Richmond, with many calling it the worst natural disaster in the state’s history.

“We’re kind of this off-ramp of this hurricane highway,” said StormTracker8 Meteorologist Matt DiNardo. “We get the leftovers,” he said.

Being dozens of miles from a coast won’t stop intense hurricanes from eventually making big impacts on our area.

“That may mean the winds mix to produce tornadoes,” DiNardo said. “We’ve seen that with Ivan, we’ve seen that with Florence.”

Back in 2004, Hurricane Gaston also dumped a ton of rain which caused serious flooding. This week, DiNardo says thunderstorms could become severe on Wednesday afternoon or evening.

So why is Central Virginia often times a hot spot, anyway?

One reason is that Richmond is on the fall line, which splits the Coastal plain and Piedmont regions. South and east of the line you have the Coastal Plain. West and north of the line you will is the Piedmont region.

At the fall line, waterfalls prevent further travel on the river. Being on the border of the two regions adds additional friction to the atmosphere. The Coastal Plain is relatively flat land and has small rolling hills. In the Piedmont, the elevation picks up with larger hills and eventually mountains as you get further west.

In 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Nine tornadoes touched down in Chesterfield on Hull Street Road — one of which killed a man.

This week, meteorologists say Central Virginia could see heavy downpours, flooding, strong winds, and possibly tornadoes.

“Pay attention to the forecast because we all know, you wait five minutes in central Virginia and the weather changes quickly,” DiNardo said.

There are still three more months of hurricane season and officials say it is best to be prepared for anything.

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