Comparing recent rains to the rains of the fall of 1985

Why so wet recently?

ROANOKE, Va – If you have lived in southwest and central Virginia for 35 years, 1985 is always the year that comes up when wet stretches like this come around. For those who haven't, the election day flood is the flood of record and one of the biggest natural disasters to ever hit this region.

If the flood of 1985 is on your mind, there are some similarities, but there are some big differences too. Over 6 days in late October and early November in 1985, torrential rains fell across much of Virginia.

The remnants of Hurricane Juan stalled out over the mountainous terrain of Virginia. Up to 20" of rain fell north of the Roanoke Valley causing flash flooding of historic proportions.

While we have seen a lot of rain in a relatively short amount of time, there are several differences. For the last 11 days, a strong Bermuda High has been off the coast of the United States, pumping in tropical moisture. Humidity has also been abnormally high for this time of year, allowing any downpour or storm that gets going to be efficient rain producers.

Monday, an extra push of tropical moisture is surging in as Subtropical Storm Alberto makes landfall along the Gulf Coast. That moisture is working its way in our direction. 

The main differences, other than the set-up, is that the rain this time around has been spread out over a couple of more days and the location of the heaviest rain was also different. Also, to this point, the coverage area of the heaviest rain and the amount of the heaviest rain.

With all of that said, it doesn't take the rains of the flood of '85 to have severe flooding. Flooding has happened over the last several days and more is likely through the middle of the week as more heavy rain is possible. remember, turn around, don't drown.


About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 as the Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Jonathan comes from Roanoke, Virginia where he covered three EF-3 tornadoes and deadly flooding brought on by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.